The Mentalist episode “Redline” opens at Zenith Motor Gallery in Marin County, California. It’s a posh sales event for high end clients, and the salesmen are working hard to get the guests into luxury sports cars. One young salesman opens the trunk of a car to illustrate its roominess, and is horrified to find the body of a woman inside. “Liselle…” he murmurs in shock.
The CBI team investigates, identifying the woman as Liselle Douglas, 28 years old, with signs of blunt force trauma. Van Pelt reports that Liselle was last seen working late the night before, and a security sweep at midnight had revealed the alarm system hadn’t been activated. The coroner estimated Liselle had already been dead by then. Jane makes one of his usual inappropriate comments about the “new car smell” in the trunk. Lisbon orders Rigsby and Van Pelt to have the body removed from the trunk and examined.
Jane and Cho walk over to interview the witnesses, talking first to salesman Brad Elias. Jane scoffs when Elias says they were like a family at Zenith Motors. Jane says they were more like a gladiator pit, fighting over commissions, “a seething mass of primal hostility and mistrust.” Elias protests, but when Jane tells them Liselle’s client list is in the upstairs breakroom, Elias and all but one of the other salesman race upstairs. Jane tells Cho he’s just eliminated the remaining salesman as a suspect, because he’s too honest to profit from murder, and therefore too honest to murder. The salesman agrees.
Jane and Cho next interview the owner of Zenith, Oliver Westhoff. He lets them know that he was “pissed” when Liselle didn’t show up to work that day, and it was lucky salesman Kinsey stepped up to host the event. He explains that he wants the cutthroat atmosphere with his employees, as it contributes to their 100 million in sales. Every six months there’s a competition, where the winner gets a Rolex and the loser “gets a new job.” Westhoff asks what to tell his clients about when they’ll reopen, and Cho replies, “Tell them a woman is dead.” When Westhoff protests that it’s a service business, Jane jabs, “And when sharks stop swimming, they drown?” Westhoff isn’t pleased.
Westhoff takes them to the break room to meet James Kinsey, the top salesman, and the man who discovered the body. He says he left Lyselle working at 8:30pm the night before. When Jane rifles through the refrigerator and grabs a container of soup, Kinsey warns him that it’s his. Jane closes the refrigerator, but tells Kinsey that he can tell he resented Lyselle, even though she was no threat to his standing. He guesses it’s because she got sales using her looks. “Sex sells,” Kinsey admits, with his permanent salesman grin. After Cho questions him, he admits he asked Lyselle out but got shot down, due to her having a “wannabe rock star” boyfriend.
After Van Pelt gives Lisbon the address of Lyselle’s boyfriend Jeff Sparkhawk, Lisbon sits her and Rigsby down for a chat. They’re stunned when she coolly tells them that she has to report their relationship to Employee Services, and that one of them will be forced to transfer.
Lisbon then goes out with Jane to Sparhawk’s apartment. On the way down the hall, Jane tells Lisbon he understands that she’s upset about Van Pelt and Rigsby, and her fear that she may have made the decision out of “jealousy and resentment.” Before Lisbon can protest, they hear what sounds like a gunshot. Lisbon draws her gun and Jane gets out of the way while she enters the apartment.
Lisbon finds Sparhawk shirtless and smashing a guitar into bits. She puts her gun away and orders him to put down what’s left of his guitar. Jane offers to go and make tea.
Sitting down in the kitchen with Lisbon, Sparhawk says that he breaks things when he’s sad. Jane says it’s more like guilt, self-pity, and a little excitement. Sparhawk confesses that Lyselle was working a job she hated to support him while he tried to get somewhere with his music. Lisbon asks if there was resentment in the relationship. Sparhawk says they fought like any other couple, and admits to some jealousy over the rich guys hitting on her at work. He says they even gave her gifts, but she returned them or got rid of them. Jane then points out a valuable painting on the wall. Sparhawk says Lyselle kept it so they could use it to pay for their wedding.
When Sparhawk breaks down again, lamenting that he didn’t deserve her, Jane coldly tells him to stop, that “self pity will kill you.” Lisbon stares at him sharply and he adds, “Take it from someone who knows.”
Leaving Sparhawk’s apartment, Jane once again needles Lisbon about her decision to break up Van Pelt and Rigsby. She denies any feeling on the subject, but he presses. He tells there’s no shame in it, that sometimes he too wonders “Why can’t I have a normal life?” Lisbon feels her life is fine. Jane points out that she’s struggling because her agents “broke the rules” and she’s forced to do what the petty side of her wants to do anyway-“hence your tension headache.” Lisbon is exasperated when she’s forced to admit she does have a headache, but claims it’s Van Pelt and Rigsby’s fault and has nothing to do with her. “Whatever you say,” Jane says, annoying her even more.
Lisbon then gets a call from Van Pelt, telling her that they found the previous owner of Lyselle’s painting, a billionaire named Walter Mashburn. Turns out Mashburn was also Lyselle’s last appointment on the day that she died. Lisbon and Jane head to the Catamaran Country Club to find and interview Mashburn.
The host at the club won’t let them through, so Jane distracts him while Lisbon checks the sign-in book. While she’s standing there, Mashburn himself comes up to Lisbon and asks for a table, slipping her some cash for a corner patio seat. Lisbon grins and takes the money.
The next scene finds the two couples sitting at a corner patio seat, overlooking a golf course. Mashburn’s young date is texting throughout the conversation, ignoring everything, including Mashburn’s flirting with Lisbon. Jane once again directly asks if Mashburn slept with Lyselle–then he guesses that Mashburn also got shot down. Mashburn asks if Jane is a psychic, saying “You have that charlatan air about you.” Jane is amused and shares a grin with Lisbon.
Mashburn explains that the painting was a gift to Lyselle for finding him a rare Austin Healy, and that his appointment with her was to pick the car up. He flirtatiously asks Lisbon if she’d like to see the car, and she says no, though Jane says yes. Mashburn tells Lisbon she has a “damaged intensity that’s quite attractive.” Jane grins more, and it’s clear he’s loving this. As Mashburn pulls out all the stops to try and convince Lisbon to date him, Jane eggs him on. Finally Jane bluntly asks Mashburn if he killed Lyselle.
Mashburn answers by asking for the check. Then he takes Lisbon and Jane down to the boat docks, where he has a large and expensive speedboat waiting. He tells them about his life of luxury, and that if he killed Lyselle, he wouldn’t have stuffed her into a trunk like a low-life thug. Asked by Jane how he would do it, Mashburn says he would make her disappear, “like smoke.” Jane guesses that Mashburn enjoys being a murder suspect. As he casually slips into the boat, Mashburn says if they think he did it, they should try and catch him.
As Lisbon and Jane watch Mashburn and his texting girlfriend speed away in the shiny red “go-fast boat”, Jane teases Lisbon, “That could be you.”
Back at CBI headquarters, Rigsby tells Lisbon that Mashburn’s been investigated a few times for shady business practices, but has never been convicted. Lisbon calls him a “pirate who got lucky”. Jane teases Lisbon about Mashburn, saying that a little “empty glamor” would have been good for her, “but not our Lisbon”. Lisbon shoots daggers at him with her eyes. Cho then gives Lisbon another piece of info–that Westhoff apparently called the police the night of the murder about a missing Ferrari, but then called an hour later to cancel the alert.
Van Pelt comes in to add possibly related info. The coroner’s reports indicates Lyselle most likely died after being hit with a car. Lisbon orders them over to Zenith Motors to check on the missing car and any DNA evidence.
Cho and Jane head over to Westhoff’s office and find him arguing with salesman Kinsey. Apparently Westhoff’s been giving accounts to other salespeople because Kinsey’s been sick too often with some sort of stomach bug. Questioning the two men, they discover that the stolen car was the result of a spousal dispute. The owner of the car, Landau, took it from his wife for a lost weekend and then she brought it in for detailing, asking them to keep it away from her “pig husband”. Kinsey tells them that Landau is a record producer with anger and impulse control issues.
Jane once again pokes around in the break room refrigerator, taunting Kinsey by taking his soup again. He guesses that Kinsey has “food issues” and Kinsey admits someone recently stole his beef barley soup. “Beef, it’s not a typical soup meat, is it?” Jane muses. “To each their own,” Cho deadpans.
As Rigsby and Van Pelt head to Landau’s record company to interview him, Rigsby brings up the whole transfer issue, insulting Van Pelt by assuming she’ll be the one to transfer. When he says it’s “his career”, Van Pelt is further affronted, and he makes it worse by saying she can have a career, too. “Thanks for your permission!” Van Pelt scoffs, brushing past him.
Inside, the two confront Landau about his lost weekend in Vegas and taking the car from his estranged wife. When Landau discovers Lyselle died getting hit by a car, he confesses he asked someone to steal the car from Zenith Motors for him–Lyselle’s boyfriend Jeff Sparhawk. He wanted to get drugs out of the glovebox before his wife found them and used it against him in a custody hearing.
Back at Zenith, Jane and Cho sit in one of the sports cars, agitating salesman Elias. Jane angles for a test drive, but is told they need a bank statement. Cho gets a call about a lead on Sparhawk, so they leave. Jane asks Cho to drop him somewhere along the way.
We next see Jane fishing on a pier, waiting as Mashburn pulls up to the dock in his boat. Mashburn seems a little annoyed at first, but then intrigued when Jane tells him he’s “fishing, to see what bites.”
Over at a local outdoor shopping plaza, Lisbon, Van Pelt, and Rigsby find the Landau’s missing Ferrari, crashed into a pole. They also find Sparhawk farther in, threatening police with a sword. Lisbon takes over, guessing that Sparhawk is suicidal. When she tells him no one will shoot him, even if he wants it, he confesses to murdering Lyselle. Lisbon gets him to drop the sword, and the CBI takes him in.
We return to Jane and Mashburn. Mashburn says he looked Jane up, and tells him what he knows about his past, summing up that Jane is on “this hopeless quest of redemption, battling evil and injustice.” Jane replies, “Close enough.” Mashburn tells him he’s on to him, that he knows how Jane works, giving people just enough rope to hang themselves with. The two spar with words, back and forth, and it’s clear Mashburn is having fun being the slick, clever murder suspect. Jane tells him he needs to pry into his psyche a little more.
Lisbon calls Jane and tells him that Sparhawk looks good for the murder. Jane says he’ll be in later, and that he’s with someone else who “has killer written all over him.” Mashburn asks Jane to “Tell her I said hi.” Jane relays the message, and Lisbon hangs up. Mashburn is disappointed, and Jane is highly amused.
At CBI headquarters, Rigsby pulls Van Pelt aside again to talk to her, telling her “You’re giving me frostbite.” Rigsby tries to make peace, but digs himself in deeper when he tells Van Pelt he doesn’t know where their relationship is going. Van Pelt feels this information would have been useful before she endangered her career. The two part angrily, with nothing resolved.
In the interview room with Sparhawk, Lisbon and Cho get frustrated when the musician starts waxing poetic about how he killed Lyselle “metaphorically”. Lisbon tells him it isn’t a lyric writing workshop, and that the evidence is against him. Sparhawk tells them he stole the car and took it to a parking garage, and Lyselle never saw him. All he’d wanted was Landau to give him a chance at a recording contract, so he could take care of Lyselle for a change. Lisbon looks at Cho, then. “We need Jane.”
Jane is back at the country club, wowing gathered guests with his skills for finding hidden objects. Jane tells Mashburn about the “lizard brain”, a primal part of the brain that can’t hide its reactions. Mashburn has hidden a ring, and Jane watches his reactions to find where the ring is located. He discovers it fairly quickly, also gauging the reactions of a shapely blonde, who it turns out has the ring hidden in her cleavage. Mashburn calls it all parlor tricks and quackery. Jane pretends to be affronted, saying he’ll prove that what he does is real. He asks Mashburn if a fast car is available, which of course Mashburn is happy to show off.
Cho arrives in time to see Jane and Mashburn getting into a yellow Lamborghini in an open parking lot. Jane is blindfolded, in the driver’s seat. He puts a hand on Mashburn’s shoulder, saying he’ll drive accurately, just by feeling Mashburn’s reactions. The next few minutes are spent with Jane tearing around the lot at high speed, often turning at the last minute before disaster. Mashburn looks alternately terrified and exhiliarated.
After Jane finally screeches to a halt before a row of shrubbery, Mashburn jumps out, thrilled and impressed. The audience of onlookers claps enthusiastically, until they notice that the car’s been left in gear. Jane and Mashburn run towards the car, but it’s too late–the Lamborghini goes over the cliff. “It was a terrible color, anyway,” Jane rationalizes, but at Mashburn’s dark look, he promises to get him another one.
Jane, Cho, and Mashburn head over to Zenith Motors, so Jane can buy that replacement car. When Kinsey tries to take the sale, Jane says they want Elias, because “second best always tries harder.” As Elias tries to show them cars in the showroom, Jane keeps talking Mashburn out of them, eventually taking him to the garage area to look at the cars there. When Mashburn protests, Jane tells him to be patient, and lets him know this is now about the murder.
Jane walks backwards down the aisle, pointing at cars and watching for reactions. He finally settles on a red Ferrari. Elias looks nervous, telling Mashburn it’s a “little gauche.” Mashburn gives Jane the eye when he quips, “Did you see his last car?” Then Jane notices a little dent on the bumper. Elias continues to try to sell Mashburn a different car, but when he notices Cho and Jane watching him intently, he tries to act disinterested.
Cho asks if Elias is all right, and he says he’s fine. Jane says “He’s not fine. He’s feeling a little squeamish because this is the car he used to kill Lyselle.” Elias tries to protest, but Jane tells him he led them right to the murder weapon. Elias panics and takes off at a run, with Cho right behind. Mashburn is excited when he realizes Jane read Elias’ “lizard brain”. It’s a short chase, and Cho leaps over a car to intercept Elias and takes him down. As he handcuffs Elias, Mashburn registers his disappointment that it’s all over. “How are you going to top that thrill?” Jane asks. “Maybe next time I’ll be the killer,” Mashburn answers, surprising Jane.
Back at the CBI headquarters, Jane and Lisbon interview Elias. He claims pressure from his job led to Lyselle’s killing. Lisbon and Jane guess that he poisoned Kinsey’s soup to try to take him out of the running, and Lyselle caught him at it. Elias admits it, saying Lyselle told him to “make this right.” Elias scoffed at the idea, and decided to kill her before she could tell anyone what he’d done or get the police involved. “It was me or her,” he stresses. “I’m sure the jury will sympathize,” Lisbon deadpans. Asked how he knew it was Elias, Jane repeats “number two always tries harder,” and then adds, “and no one steals beef barley soup.”
After the interview, Lisbon runs into Sparhawk, who thanks her for letting him off light. She tells him not to screw it up, which startles him a little, and with a small nod, he takes off. Looking guilty when she sees Van Pelt and Rigsby, Lisbon goes over to them. She informs them that she doesn’t know anything about her relationship, and that they never told her about it, so no rules are being broken. She warns them not to show any affection, and no kissing in the office. She’s stunned when Van Pelt and Rigsby agree to the terms easily, and march off without thanking her.
Lisbon then takes a phone call, asking her to meet him. We next see her standing outside, as Jane pulls up in a silver Mercedes SLR McLaren Roadster. Lisbon is surprised when Jane says the car is from Mashburn, considering how Jane drove his other car off of a cliff. Jane tells her Mashburn was happy having a new experience, and he helped catch a killer. He tells Lisbon to get in, but she protests, saying they’re not allowed to accept gifts. “It’s not a gift, it’s a lend,” Jane clarifies. He then tells her he knows a great restaurant he can get to in 7 1/2 minutes.
The door opens, wing style, and Lisbon has to admit it’s a nice car. Jane beckons her inside with a grin, and Lisbon relents, hopping in. Putting on the seatbelt, she asks Jane to promise not to break the speed limit. “Nope!” Jane replies, and then they’re speeding down the drive, and the last we see and hear is a flash of silver and Lisbon’s shout of “Slow down!”
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PHOTOS: The Mentalist “Redline” screencaps, c2010 Primrose Hill Productions, Warner Bros. Television, CBS.