Mental Narcissist

The Mentalist. Review.

Review of The Mentalist, by Stefan Stenudd

I watched all the episodes of the first four seasons of The Mentalist, the police procedural TV series. It's catchy. But it's not about a mentalist. It's about a raving narcissist.

       The main character Patrick Jane, played bullseye excellently by Simon Baker, is a reformed conman psychic now consulting the police, helping them solve murders, while he is obsessed by revenge against Red John, the monstrous serial killer responsible for the deaths of his wife and daughter. A juicy setup.

       The crime stories are retro – skipping the CSI lab procedures, going back to the whodunit of writers like Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. Solving the mystery by contemplating and observing the people involved. That's a nice renaissance.

       But chasing villains is not what makes the series magnetic. It's the mentalist, solving crimes by old deduction and by playing tricks, flashing an irresistible smile while bending the laws as much as any criminal. He behaves like a sociopath, not the least bit inhibited by justice or police ethics.

       He's obviously very fond of himself, even when depression hits him. He behaves as if he's the only real human being in the world, and the rest of us are mere spectators of a lesser species. That's narcissism.

       That's what the show is really all about. Narcissism, being intoxicated by the admiration of oneself. Patrick Jane is full of it, albeit in a very charming way, like a rascal boy reminding us that life is but a game. But he is a time bomb.

       Narcissism may seem like a joke, but it's a mental condition with distinct hazards, especially when combined with a dose of paranoia. Jane's arch enemy Red John makes sure of that.

       The secretive, unseen super villain is also evidently a narcissist, tremendously fond of himself and of forcing his impression on everybody – especially the one to whom he feels akin. He should, since they suffer from the same delusion.

       So, the only proper ending, when ratings drop and the series approaches its unavoidable cancellation, is to reveal that they are both the same person, Patrick Jane and Red John. Maybe a split personality thing, or just a delusion gone haywire. He's chasing himself, because in his narcissistic universe, it's the only one worth the effort.

       Although the creator of the series, Bruno Heller, is equipped with some guts, as can be seen in his former series Rome, I wonder if he dares to let The Mentalist reach that natural conclusion.

       He might chicken out by revealing Red John as the twin brother of Patrick Jane or some compromise of that kind, but what he really should do is to go out with the bang of exposing Jane as the serial killer. The obsession of a narcissist, creating an alias of no less brilliance than his self-image.

       In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy the series, although I'm frequently irritated by sloppiness in making the plot plausible, and some side-stories that are far too conventional to fit in this setting. Side-stories must relate to the basic theme of the show, or they're nothing but distractions.

       At length, maybe what remains the most attractive in the series is the acting by Simon Baker. His smile is so genuinely devilish in all its charm, his posture and attitude fit the character so well, it's hard to imagine that it's not 100% typecasting. That's good acting.

       And it's mesmerizing how his face turns from that careless rascal into the despair of someone who has lost everything, in spite of all his superior competence, at moments when he is harshly reminded of the tragedy in his past.

       I can see a few more seasons of that before getting bored.

Stefan Stenudd
August 7, 2012

More Reviews

About Cookies

My Other Websites

Myths in general and myths of creation in particular.

The wisdom of Taoism and the Tao Te Ching, its ancient source.

An encyclopedia of life energy concepts around the world.

Qi (also spelled chi or ki) explained, with exercises to increase it.

The ancient Chinese system of divination and free online reading.

Tarot card meanings in divination and a free online spread.

The complete horoscope chart and how to read it.








My Books

Click the header to get to the webpage where I present all my books in English. Click an image below to go to that book's page on Amazon.

Ever Young. Novel by Stefan Stenudd. Sunday Brunch with the World Maker. Novel by Stefan Stenudd. All's End. Science fiction novel by Stefan Stenudd.
Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes - The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd.
Aikido Principles. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Attacks in Aikido. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Aikibatto. Book by Stefan Stenudd.
Occasionally I Contemplate Murder. Book by Stefan Stenudd. QI - increase your life energy. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Life Energy Encyclopedia. Book by Stefan Stenudd.
Tarot Unfolded. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Your Health in Your Horoscope. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

About me
I'm a Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction books in both Swedish and English. I'm also an artist, an historian of ideas and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.