The Mentalist “Red Scare” begins with architect Alan Foster (David Kilde) working alone, late at night in an historic home. He hears a noise, then sees flashing lights behind a set of French doors. He moves closer, the doors open, and we see a shocked and frightened look on his face.
The next scene begins with Foster’s body on the ground, dead after falling–or being thrown–out the upstairs window. The CBI team arrive on the scene, and thus begins the spooky Halloween ghost story installment of The Mentalist.
Deputy Nick Fisher of the local small town police informs the CBI that they’ve never had a violent crime before. All the players, even the deputy, seem suspicious as the plot moves on. Agent Lisbon (Robin Tunney) brings in a local thief who was on the property stealing construction tools the night of the murder. The thief saw Foster’s wife Lillian (Christina Chang) in her car outside the house that same night.
The home’s previous owner, Victoria Abner (Frances Fisher), still lives in town. Descended from the original owner, she couldn’t afford to pay the tax bills, and thus was forced to sell. Abner’s nephew Drew (Michael McMillian) is staying with her, using his skills as a paralegal to help her with the tax bill difficulties. Though initially grateful to sell, Victoria later accuses Foster of “stealing” her family home, and gets into a physical altercation with Lillian Foster over it.
Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) gets Deputy Fisher to confess about a local ghost story, which involves the original home owner dying in the same manner as Foster. He’s said to haunt the place, and Lillian tells the CBI that her husband had been hearing moans and strange noises at the house.
Jane finds the local historian, Philip Raimey (Ron Canada) who tells him that there’s also a rumored family fortune hidden in the house. He gets Agent Cho (Tim Kang) to ask the Abners about the ghost and treasure. Victoria acknowledges both, but says the family gave up hope of ever finding anything years ago.
Meanwhile on “Red Scare”, Jane, Rigsby (Owain Yeoman), and Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) work on figuring out how the killer got into the house without setting off the alarm. Jane freaks Van Pelt and Rigsby out by pulling the ghost routine on them. Turns out the original owner put an old-fashioned speaker system in the house, a sliding glass panel, and buttons to affect the electrical–all the basic smoke and mirrors needed for a fake haunting.
Jane then sends Rigsby and Van Pelt down an old bootlegger’s secret passage, to see if they can find a way out to the outside–where Jane will be looking for a door. The passage is a little dark and spooky, which brings Rigsby and Van Pelt closer together–and eventually the surges of fear and relief lead to Rigsby confessing his love for Van Pelt. He’s just about to kiss her when Jane flings open the outer hatch that leads to the tunnel they’re in.
With a little more digging, the team discovers that the Raimey recently purchased an old letter that gave a clue to the original owner’s treasure. This was why Victoria was suddenly so anxious to get her family home back. Jane and Lisbon get all the suspect together in the house while Jane deciphers the clue, which leads to a box…with another clue.
Lisbon pretends to be fed up with the whole treasure hunt and chases them all out, ordering the team to lock up the whole house and not let anyone in. This way the only person who can get in to try and pursue the latest planted “clue” will be the person who found their way in the last time. It turns out to be Victoria’s nephew Drew. After a lifetime of hearing about his ancestors’ fortune, he wanted his own piece of the pie. He tried to scare Foster away, but the architect didn’t scare easily. He found Drew hidden in the house and in a panic, Drew struck and killed him. To cover up the crime, Drew threw him out the window and tried to blame it on the home’s ghost.
Back at the CBI headquarters, the team celebrates another case solved. While the others are enjoying pizza and wine that Jane pours, Van Pelt drags Rigsby into another room for a make-out session. She tells Rigsby to follow her out to her car once they’re done at headquarters. When they rejoin the group, they ask Jane about the key he really found in the home’s hidden box. He tells them it led to a secret stash of the owner’s wine collection, bottles worth perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars. The team all stare into their plastic tumblers and then take appreciative drinks of their “treasure” wine.
Hopefully Mrs. Foster or Victoria won’t find out.
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PHOTO: Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, The Mentalist “Red Scare” screencaps, c2009 Primrose Hill Productions, Warner Bros. Television, CBS.