Yes, of course, we are in television's holiday hiatus that will not end until shortly after New Year's Day. That means we have been confined to special events (some of them OK, like the recent Kennedy Center Honors) and reruns-mostly reruns. CBS's hit drama, "The Mentalist," is certainly no exception to that regimen.
Given that situation, we might want to wonder: do the programmers simply pick their rerun episodes out of a hat, or is there some degree of strategy involved in which of the previously-viewed shows gets chosen for a given time-slot? The likeliest answer is that it varies from network to network and show to show. It would seem to be a good idea to re-broadcast a show, if it is necessary to do so, that will also serve as a useful reminder of what is to come.
If we can lend any credence to that idea, then we may want to note that "The Mentalist" has made an interesting choice for its December 29th broadcast. It is a show, not from earlier in this season, but, rather, the season before.
Missing from that re-broadcast, as well as the past several shows, is the notorious Red John. But then, the show's creators may have dropped just enough of a hint at the end of their most recent original episode, "Fugue in Red," that Red John is still in the picture. By the way, that was one of the show's more intriguing episodes and well-worth watching if you missed it, even though it does little to advance the long-term plot. We already knew the arch-villain is out there somewhere.
What you have instead in the rerun of the episode titled "Red Gold" is the reappearance of Madeline Hightower, not just as a figure behind a desk for one or two scenes, but as the co-star (along with Simon Baker, of course). Whatever social or even sexual tension there was between those two characters got its fullest play in that particular episode.
Now we can get back to the question: was there a reason for rerunning this episode as opposed to any number of past shows the network could have put up? Keep in mind that Hightower (Aunjanue Ellis) was completely swept off the board at the end of the previous season, having served her function as bait for Red John's treacherous mole. That there was never any accounting whatsoever of her character's subsequent fate has been a noticeable flaw in this season's ongoing story. Perhaps "Red Gold" is a harbinger of that problem's resolution.
Earlier in the series, when Hightower first joined the CBI, there were enough sparks between her and Jane to imagine she may have had an equal shot with Theresa Lisbon of becoming the new Mrs. Mentalist when the series finally wrapped. We pretty-well have to figure he is going to find somebody, sooner or later. In the more recent episodes, not only has Hightower gone missing, but Jane's bond with Lisbon has become subtly closer and closer. Could Madeline Hightower resurface as a distraction to that relationship, much as the earlier character Walter Mashburn was a distraction to Lisbon?
On the other hand, maybe they did just pull this on out of a hat. We'll find out soon enough.
"The Mentalist," Season 4, Episode 10: "Fugue in Red"
"The Mentalist," Season 3, Episode 15: "Red Gold"
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