With no murder case of the week to solve The Mentalist centers its entire episode on setting up a fateful meeting to get Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) one step closer to identifying Red John. Over two days the events of the episode slowly build tension as Jane and the CBI arrange for all five of the remaining suspects to be at a predetermined time and place of his choosing allowing Jane to identify and, if The Mentalist gets his way, kill Red John.
Through various methods four of the five suspects – Ray Haffner (Reed Diamond), Sheriff Thomas McAllister (Xander Berkeley), Gale Bertram (Michael Gaston), and Reede Smith (Drew Powell) – are easily persuaded, cajoled, or even threatened to attend. The lone hold-out is the dying leader of Visualize Bret Styles (Malcolm McDowell) who Jane has to work overtime to convince to attend. He even has to get rid of the man’s FBI tail when neither he nor Van Pelt‘s (Amanda Righetti) more gentle persuasions meet with any success.
Despite relenting and agreeing to allow Lisbon (Robin Tunney) to be present, Jane manages to loose his partner (stranding her in the middle of nowhere without a car or cell phone) as the episode enters its final few minutes and The Mentalist confronts all five suspects in his abandoned home with a shotgun. Not surprisingly, “Fire and Brimstone” doesn’t end with Red John’s identity being established, but it does help narrow Jane’s suspect pool from five down to three as neither Styles nor Haffner have the tattoo described by the dying witness.
Other than Grace and Lisbon the rest of the CBI team don’t get much screentime in the tense episode that’s all about laying the perfect trap that catches Jane something far different than he was expecting. It’s a little unclear as to how both the gunshot and explosion seen at the end of the episode fit in to Jane’s plan, or how Jane plans to keep himself out of jail after threatening five prominent men with a gun. However, since I half-expected none of the men to actually have the tattoo the situation did move forward Jane’s case to identify Red John by uncovering the secret cabal of law enforcement officers right under his nose… unless the show’s writers plan to throw in another big twist like they did following the cliffhanger ending of Season Three? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.