The Mentalists starts with Sam and Dean separated after the revelation that Dean had killed Amy behind Sam's back. A week and a half later finds both brothers drawn to Lily Dale, due to the strange murders of mediums. Unlike previous episodes where the brothers are repairing a rift, the tension is an undercurrent through out. It is not wrapped up in the beginning before the case begins or dealt with at the end. Dean imposes himself into Sam's investigation, and they immerse themselves into the case completely. 

The case itself is a metaphor for the issues lying between the Winchesters. No one in Lily Dale is honest. Almost everyone makes their living as a medium or psychic. They put on shows, conduct seances with phony spirits, and foretell the future for money. Yet, while it's apparent that this business is a phony business, they embrace that, too. Embellishers are almost favored over possible real psychics. Each victim was one of these, and each professed to possess some form of psychic gift. They were also the headliners for the town's upcoming festival. Sam and Dean, too, are hiding behind phony guises as FBI agents investigating the cases. 


There are actually two ghosts involved in the case. One is hiding behind the other, using misdirection. The ghost that everyone assumes is responsible for the killing is there to warn. It isn't until after she is destroyed that the truth is revealed. It's another play on the truth vs. deceit motif laced through out the episode. 



They are the Fox sisters---and it would seem that everyone assumed the real psychic of the two had no gifts. While alive, Kate Fox mesmerized on stage, levitating objects and foretelling deaths---a gift she will inherit upon death. Margaret, however, had to stay on the sidelines, shunned for not having the gifts of her sister. She simply didn't possess the charisma required to sell her gifts the way her sister did---and so they entered a professional relationship. Margaret would provide Kate the psychic feats while Kate would sell it to the crowd. It reaped bitterness in Margaret. It's also what will lead her to be angry in the afterlife. 

Sam and Dean's relationship in the present feels professional only. All the discussions they have at first concern just the case. Dean tells Sam from the start, "I'm just saying, let's try and stop the killings. That's it."

Sam takes that literally. His anger is written all over his face, and when they go to question Melanie, the granddaughter of one of the victims, she tells them in her explanation about her "psychic gift," and body language, "Like you two "“ long-time partners, but, um... a lot of tension. You're pissed.  And you're stressed."



Rather the brothers like it or not, their issues are part of this case. It will also be what ultimately leads to an honest discourse between the brothers. Season four saw Sam distracted by demon blood, revenge against Lilith, and Ruby. Hell and torturing others while there haunted Dean. Angels and demons alike kept pulling them in different directions. Neither brother seemed able to meet the other half way and make that first step to healing. Season six, after Sam's Wall had been erected hampered any real  growth that would have been possible. 

Now with both Sam's Wall down and Dean's secret exposed, there is nothing left for the brothers to truly do than face the issues that have lingered since Dean's resurrection from Hell.

The kernel that lies at the center of these is that of trust. Neither brother seems to be able to trust others---or more importantly each other. Yet, that is precisely what they must do if they intend to not only survive the Leviathan's next attack but survive as a partnership at all. 

Sam is having a hard time trusting Dean. Not only did Dean lie about Amy to him more than once---it's that he lied about trusting Sam that has him so angry. He takes his anger out on Dean by distancing himself during the case---canvasing other locations without him, and not talking to him at first when Dean arrives. He seems annoyed that Dean has forced his way into the case. When Melanie calls imploring that they come back, that the haunting is not over, Sam yanks the phone away from Dean and says in a clipped tone, "Dean, just give me the phone and drive." 

On the surface, his anger seems easily summed up when he barks at his brother, "Look, I'll work this damn case, but you lied to me, and you killed my friend."



But it's not just that Dean killed Amy behind his back. It's that he doesn't trust him enough. Sam feels like all the progress that had been made since getting his soul back has been erased. In many ways, it has. He had his brother's trust during the period when the Wall had been in place. Now that it is has fallen and he has had struggles with hallucinations, Dean sees him as unreliable. 

He has also grown frustrated with Dean's hidden issues. Even though the secret about Amy is out, Sam knows that there is more to the story, more weighing on Dean. He has tried to get his brother to talk, to tell him what is bothering him, and has only found his attempts rebuffed. He has been, unlike season 4, open and honest with Dean about all of his problems. He briefly tried to cover up his struggles with seeing Lucifer, but once it had been shoved into the open, Sam acknowledged it. He has tried to get Dean to do the same. 

It isn't until the brothers attend the museum to learn more about the town's history and the ghost seen in the footage that Dean is pressured to do the same from an outside source. The tour guide, also a medium, stops Dean just as he's going to follow Sam to the car. He tells him, "I"™m sorry, I don't normally do this during business hours, but do you know an Eleanor... or an Ellen? She seems quite concerned about you. She wants to tell you -- pardon me -- if you don't tell someone how bad it really is, she'll kick your ass from beyond. You have to trust someone again eventually." 



It's more than simply trust for Dean, however. It's not that he's unable to trust Sam that is the problem. It's that Dean can't trust himself. It's projected out to everyone around him. He admits to Sam, "Of course, ever since Cas, I'm having a hard time trusting anybody." 

It's the start of what could be an honest relationship that has never truly existed between the brothers. Sam hid his psychic visions---particularly the one about Jess's death---from Dean for a good portion of season 1. Dean hid their father's last order from Sam for a period of season 2. He tried to originally hide his deal from Sam. Sam hid his dealings with Ruby---and his demon blood addiction---through season 4. Dean kept his experiences in Hell secret. In season 6, we see Dean attempt to keep from Sam the fact that he has a Wall in his mind. Secrets---and keeping them---have always led to friction between Sam and Dean. No matter their intentions, good or bad, it always makes one or the other angry. 




Dean actually admitting, in one simple sentence, that he's not able to trust anyone at the moment speaks volumes. It's a vulnerable moment for them both. Sam has finally gotten Dean to say something, while Dean has finally acknowledged not just to his brother but to himself that something is wrong. It isn't a total resolution, but it could be a very promising beginning for the brothers to actually overcome their history of secret keeping. It is slight growth for them, setting them on a path of equality attempted in season 5 but never truly realized. 

For the first time since season 4---Leviathans aside---Sam and Dean are able to face everything that happened after "No Rest for the Wicked." The extra baggage that has been added by both brothers is simply more for them to address. There are no angels whispering to Dean that his brother is on a path of destruction. No demons---especially one like Ruby---hold sway over Sam. They can finally, while coalescing into a unified team, breathe enough to perhaps deal with the things that have weakened them in the past. 

This start is just that: a start. Considering the emphasis that sibling acts are tough, it isn't hard to imagine there will be more clashes between the brothers in the future. It's human nature. As they live on the road, there will be friction and discourse. The difference from this episode's altercations between the brothers reveals how they can start to move beyond the ruts that tend to bog them down. They are not the Sam and Dean of season 1 or 2. They are not even the Sam and Dean of season 5 or back half of 6. Both brothers have something they really haven't had before: common ground. 

Sam remembers all of his time in Hell, as does Dean. They are both dealing with the fallout of Castiel's death in their own ways---even if some methods are unhealthy. They have made some baby steps here. Sam is not willing to let Dean continue, telling him point blank, "You can't just look me in the face and tell me you're fine." 

In the past, both brothers have hidden behind this phrase. This is a change and a good sign for their growth as brothers. 



The acting in this episode was well done. I liked the guest actors this week. Dorian Brown presented Melanie Goldy well. She seemed like a no nonsense type woman---despite her chosen profession. I found her chemistry with Jensen to be enjoyable. Johnny Sneed as the psychic Jimmy Tomorrow did a good job of misleading Sam. I had to laugh at the shout out to Gen's pregnancy with his goose chasing the younger Winchester to a "pregnant yoga class." After he's revealed to be the actual necromancer, he became deliciously creepy to me. He also had that cocky attitude that tends to be someone's downfall. Rukiya Bernard as Camille Thibodeaux was a delight---even if she was a victim. She nailed the "Miss Cleo" type personality just right and I found it absolutely hilarious when she told her client that "family is just a pain in the ass." I liked how different she presented Camille off the clock, too. She was sweet. 

Jensen sold us a conflicted but determined Dean. He still had issues weighing on him, but he was getting closer to the Dean that won't let others die because of it. Jensen presented a concerned and protective Dean with Melanie. It's usually one of my favorite versions of the character---especially when he's not relying on sheer bravado to do it. I sensed a vulnerability between Melanie and Dean that I attribute to Jensen's acting. He gave us a patient until the breaking point Dean with an angry Sam. I really felt for Dean in this episode. He was trying hard before running into Sam to do things on his own, yet the absence of his brother weighed on him. I could feel that in the way Jensen said his lines, telling the joke about the powerball. 



Jared presented an extremely pissed off Sam very well. I most certainly could feel his irritation and anger throughout the majority of the episode. It emerged in the way he carried himself, his facial expressions (really, I think it's fair to say that Sam wore a bitch face almost the whole time), and his diction. Sam's hurt also became palpable when confronting Dean again about Amy and the trust issues through Jared's portrayal. His concern showed at the end when trying to get Dean to talk, and I really liked how Jared's voice took on a softness to convey Sam's feelings.  I also sensed from him the patience to try and start fresh with Dean. 

And now, who's ready for a wedding! We know this can't end well. (Especially considering who the groom is!) 

 

 

Comments  

Geordiegirl1967
# Geordiegirl1967 2011-11-10 11:41
Great review. I loved the episode and I agree with your take on the boys relationship. I thought this ep was a real step forward for their relationship.

I have seen some question that Sam forgave Dean too quickly, but I disagree. I am very close to my sister, and although we argue we never want to. Ultimately we want to be OK. We are looking for reasons to gloss over our differences because we know that we are better together than apart, and are united by far more than what divides us. I think Sam and Dean are realistically written in that way. If these two were just friends, or work partners, the issues between them would have broken their relationship long ago. But they are family, and that is different. No matter how angry Sam was, he wants to stay with his brother. He was just making a point by leaving for a few days. If they hadn't run into each other on this case, it wouldn't have been long before he made contact IMO.

I completely agree about the acting. We are so lucky that the Js are a) such good actors, and b) are still - 7 years in - still giving of their absolute best. Many an actor would be phoning in their performances by now, but not them. In particular I thought Jared was outstanding in this ep. The hurt in his voice when they argued on the steps, the anger he felt communicated vividly through his facial expressions and body language, and his acting in their last scene - all great. Jensen was also brilliant. I felt for him when he made a joke for Sam at the medium’s house, looked up to see his reaction and remembered he wasn't there. Dean is terrible at being alone. He hates it, and that was obvious here in lots of subtle ways; his attempts to chat his way back into Sam's good books in the cafe, his (so transparent) 'let's just work this case together' attempt to get them talking, his reaction to Ellen's message, and again his acting in the last scene.

This was my 2nd favourite ep of season 7 (after HCW). The new writers we saw showcased this week and last have all acquitted themselves very well. It is great that new writing blood can come in and still nail the vibe and character of the show. I am very optimistic about how things are shaping up.

Thanks for the review.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-11-10 18:36
I think there are some issues left for them to work through, but I feel that they've taken those first steps to being a solid unit where each is an equal partner fully. And they both have tempers, so they will fight. It just is.

I think you nailed it in the acting comment. So many long running shows have actors that phone it in, big contracts locked in and job assured that they don't feel they have to give it their all. These two are always trying to improve on their craft and it shows. It's amazing to me just how well they present the characters---mi ndful of all their character's histories and struggles.

I really liked this one for many reasons. I liked the fact that we saw the brothers dealing with their issues through the whole episode and not just in the beginning or end. I liked the old school case they had to do. It wasn't Leviathans or demons or angels or Apocalypse. It was just a simple (yet complex) case that had them doing the family business of saving people and hunting things.
Michelle Kinseth
# Michelle Kinseth 2011-11-10 22:15
Quote:

I have seen some question that Sam forgave Dean too quickly, but I disagree. I am very close to my sister, and although we argue we never want to. Ultimately we want to be OK. We are looking for reasons to gloss over our differences because we know that we are better together than apart, and are united by far more than what divides us. I think Sam and Dean are realistically written in that way. If these two were just friends, or work partners, the issues between them would have broken their relationship long ago. But they are family, and that is different. No matter how angry Sam was, he wants to stay with his brother. He was just making a point by leaving for a few days. If they hadn't run into each other on this case, it wouldn't have been long before he made contact IMO.
I totally agree with this! I don't have a sister, but I do have a younger brother. Having been in each other's lives, for all their lives (save the two years Sam was at Stanford) it makes perfect sense that Sam reacted the way he did. I also don't think he completely forgave Dean. He is only just realizing WHY Dean did what he did, and now he's willing to move past it. I am hoping for more drama to play out before the fall-break...

I also agree, this too is my 2nd fav ep so far this season, after HCW! :)
Riverbella
# Riverbella 2011-11-10 11:44
Excellent take on the brothers' issues. I really liked the way this episode let the problem play out rather than curing it in a two-minute riff at the beginning. One of my favorite moments was the very subtle lip-quirk of a smile Sam gave when Dean threatened to punch the waiter in the face if he "affirmated" Dean. There was the signal of amused affection breaking through as Sam really begins to let go of his anger and hurt.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-11-10 18:38
I've always thought Sam laughs on the inside at Dean's jokes. And yes, to me, that is a clear indication that he's ready to move on with Dean. It doesn't settle everything, but I like that it's a start.

I agree, it was nice that it wasn't fixed at the start or held off right till the end. Having it as a thread through out was great for me.
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2011-11-10 15:36
Thanks for the review. I thought you got the brothers spot on. My heart ached a little when Dean made the joke about the powerball and his brother wasn't there to make an uncomfortable face at another grown inducing joke. And when he realizes Sam is in the cafe, total diarrhea of the mouth, Sam couldn't get a word in edgewise if he tried! I think Dean was so afraid he'd walk away if he stopped talking.

I've already posted about this episode a few times already, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much. I just really wanted to reiterate how much I am loving this season so far. Some people aren't happy with the character development of our two favourite people, but I think it's in keeping with their personalities. Again this episode was penned by two new writers and I must say I liked what they presented.

Now, let's get on with the wedding!
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-11-10 18:41
I'm glad you liked my take. It does make me sad to see Dean do that joke and no Sam head shaking or admonishment in the form of a quiet drawled out "Dean" and it's obvious that Dean felt the same way. And yeah, I think you're right. Dean babbled to keep Sam in his seat and/or to keep him from decking him.

It was nice to see an old school hunt for them to work through these issues, too.
Gerry
# Gerry 2011-11-10 15:39
What a wonderful in depth look at the boys' relationship! I really enjoyed this and agree with the analysis. I think the purpose of the Amy arc was to bring the underlying issues to the surface, so the boys can take some babysteps forward.

Sam and Dean love each other, but they handle communication really differently. Sibling acts really are tough. But I believe Dean when he says Sam and Dean are in better shape than the sibling acts who ended up hating each other. Neither Sam nor Dean will let go when they sense something is wrong with the other. They just usually aren't on the same page at the same time.

I loved the acting in the ep. Jensen Ackles did an excellent job showing how scared Dean was that Sam would continue to stone wall him. I also agree on the chemistry with Melanie. Dean was a combination of attracted, protective and vulnerable. It's too bad he didn't meet her at a different point in his life.

Jared Padalecki also did an excellent job showing how angry Sam was underneath his cold exterior--but also showing Sam's real concerns when the ice is broken. The last scene was a really nice one for Jared.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-11-10 18:45
I think that was this episode in a nut shell. It is baby steps for them. They have a lot of stuff to deal with and here they have no choice but o take those baby steps doing so.

I also agree with you. They are better than the sibling acts at that museum. They don't quit each other---even if one does walk away and spend a week apart to cool down and/or stew in their anger for a while. They know they're all they've got so they have to make it work. I see them forming a real and true partnership that will make them even stronger.
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-11-10 19:55
Hi FarAwayEyes,

Thanks for the informative look at the brothers relationship in this episode. I too think they're on the way to reconciliation.

I've been mulled over The Mentalists quite a bit since I first watched it, and I had a sudden flash of inspiration. Most of us have been seeing or reviewing or critiquing the moment Sam kills Jimmy Tomorrow as the moment when he starts to re-evaluate the validity of Dean's opinion regarding killing Amy. But what if if started sooner?

What if it started with the realization that they had burnt the wrong spirit in burning Kate first? After torching her bones they realized she was just trying to warn future victims. She was a somewhat benevolent supernatural creature and they killed her without even listening to what she urgently was trying to tell them. Not the same as Amy, but it was alll about acting on a hunter's assumption about future risk and benefit.

I really appreciated Sam's slow thaw towards Dean. And I loved Dean's vulnerability with Melanie. The scene that really broke my heart though was the fearful-yet-oh- so-tentatively- hopeful look in Dean's eyes when Melanie went to read his palm. He loooked like a little boy who still, sort of, almost believes that Santa can bring you what you really want for Christmas.

His joke about not being able to tell the future suggests Dean still has a little bit of faith and hope for a better tomorrow. I find that tremendously encouraging, because I think both boys are really going to need it.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-11-10 21:28
I think you might be on to something. Kate was beginning for someone ANYONE to listen to her and both brothers assumed that she was the evil spirit without taking that time. It was an honest mistake and when you consider the hunter mind set their actions made sense. I think you might be right that Sam made this connection, too, realizing that if he had not been soft on Amy he would have staked her.

I think this also relates to Sam trying to get Dean to talk. Dean is Kate--his drinking and not sleeping and stressed body language screams "LISTEN TO ME I NEED HELP." Of course when Sam gets the message and asks him to unload Dean clams up, but he actually let some of his pain out and that's important in oh so many ways.

I also like that end scene with Melanie. Everyone focused on its reflection to Provenance, but it revealed that there is a small ember of hope waiting to be ignited within Dean. I'd like to see that built up so that he has reason to do what he does besides "Dad trained me to do it so I do it."
Marilyn
# Marilyn 2011-11-10 20:37
Far Away Eyes, thanks for this excellent review. I, too, enjoyed this episode for many of the same reasons you listed. I also appreciated the "history lesson" as you took us back through a little SPN brotherly drama history. :-)
You picked up so many details, like Sam not being there to hear Dean's joke at the beginning. I was so glad Sam was there to grimace at Dean's remark to the waiter at the end of the show re punching him out if he affirmated Dean again.

Jensen and Jared are such phenomenal actors and they continue to work and grow at their craft; even after 7 years of working long hours in the snow and rain.They would make reading a grocery list top-notch.

I agree with all the other posts on the site as well. Thanks for helping me see things I might have missed or analysis I hadn't thought of.

Pragmatic dreamer, I am glad you saw that hopeful look in Dean's eyes too when Melanie took his palm. I wasn't sure if I was imagining it or not.

He stood up as she walked to the table. What a gentleman. Sigh. ;-)

Can't wait for the wedding.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-11-10 21:42
They are dealing with so many long standing issues and doing something with them in this season and I rather like that. Secret Keeping is a major issue and when I thought about the Amy secret I started to recall how many times either brother's done it in the past. Let's hope this baby step truly gets them to move beyond. No matter the intention, it always ends badly in some way or sets off a chain reaction that leads to heart ache.

I love how both Jared and Jensen are artists. They do the hard work to grow in the craft. There's TV stars and then there's actors. They are actors.

I love how Sam and Dean have always done those old school gestures. I don't know if that's Jared and Jensen's touches to the characters or written in, but I like it. Big bad tough guy hunters and they stand up for the ladies as the come to the table. Nice.
kaj
# kaj 2011-11-11 02:22
Definitely agree with you there.

Hei, i just remember. This is something that bugged me for a week. According to Supernatural History there is always something terrible happen whenever Sam get separated from Dean. When he went to Stanford his girlfriend got fried, In scarecrow he got befriended by Demon!Meg, Got snatched by benders, kidnapped by Vampires, Cold Oak, many more.

So, I am worried of what happen to Sam during this week and a half separated from Dean. Could he got tangled in Supernatural problem or unsavory people? What have you done Sam??!
I bet this wedding too will be a disaster.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-11-11 06:10
That's an interesting point. I don't know that they'll have something significant come up concerning Sam's week away. If anything, I'd guess his hallucinations probably played a factor.

I don't really see this wedding as being real. And yes, it'll probably be a huge disaster for all involved.
Melanie
# Melanie 2011-11-11 11:53
Thank you for the insights into the brothers relationship. I loved the Mentalists and I think S7 is doing a fabulous job of taking the brothers through this process of healing both individually and their relationship.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-11-11 22:32
I'm glad you liked my take. I do think they are starting to build growth for the brothers. It's good to see.