Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Meat huggers ruin everything on The Mentalist.

January 11th, 2009 10:02 pm by Kelly Garbato

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Proceed with caution: Major spoilers ahead!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an animal rights terrorism plotline on CBS’s The Mentalist. At the time, I worried that maybe the show had jumped the shark. Well, after a brief break over the holiday season, The Mentalist returned Tuesday with an awesome episode (Season 1, Episode 11: Red John’s Friends). Although…I was a little surprised to see animal rights terra-ists make another brief appearance. That’s two episodes in a row, and in completely unrelated story lines. And this time, we Totally. Ruin. Everything. Like WTF, Bruno Heller!?

Here are the relevant bits: the titular character (Simon Baker as Patrick Jane) used to be a psychic charlatan, a fraud. A real sleazy John Edward type. While on the daytime talk show circuit, Jane started talking smack about a serial killer called Red John, whom he was “helping” the police to catch. Red John got pissed and killed Jane’s wife and daughter. Jane renounced his flim-flamin’ ways and joined the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as a legitimate consultant – with the ultimate goal of one day finding Red John and exacting revenge.

There’s the background. So. In this particular episode, a convicted murderer (Todd Stashwick as Jared) makes a deal with Jane: Jane proves the man’s innocence (he’s an asshat, but ultimately not guilty of this particular crime), and he’ll tell Jane everything he knows about Red John (a friend of friend dealio). Jane ultimately solves the case, catching the real killer – but with a little help from Red John. Red John, you see, is onto Jared, and wants him sprung from the pokey so Red John can kill him before Jared divulges his identity. Jared suspects as much because, hey! – he’s flapping his gums about outing a serial killer. CBI wants Jared to get to Red John who also wants to get Jared. It’s a game of cat and mouse, and they’re all playing one another.

Fast forward to Jared’s release from prison. CBI, while transporting Jared from the jail, gets stuck in a traffic jam. Some sort of street protest. An angry mob! The perfect storm! The detectives’ eyes dart nervously to and fro. Signs! Protesters! “Meat is murder!” “No fur!” ZOMFG, it’s those crazy animal rights extremists, at it again! The street is flooded with protesters – 50, 100 maybe. Angry, agitated people everywhere! You just know something bad is bound to happen.

Funny thing is, the meat huggers seem to be protesting everything…and nothing. There is no cohesive theme to or target of their protest. The production crew just threw a bunch of stereotypical AR slogans on placards and – voilĂ  – instant protest.

This is all kind of silly (and lazy), but not particularly bothersome – except that Jared takes advantage of the disorder and panic to escape. He throws his hot coffee in one agent’s face and flees into the mob-crowd. CBI loses Jared; but Red John tracks him down in Tijuana and slays him before he can out a serial killer. A psychotic who brutally murdered the series protagonist’s family.

Thanks a bunch, crazy animal rights terra-ists! Always effing shit up for the rest of humanity, you are.

I know, I know. The AR angle is pretty inconsequential. I just find it amusing that the writers/producers made the protest an animal rights one, when the episode immediately preceding this one also featured crazy, misanthropic animal rights extremists. I’m starting to feel like a caricature here.

Besides, it would’ve been more realistic if the cops had rounded up the protesters and violated their First Amendment rights. Especially in Cali!

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