Jane does it again! Though this is the second big city team-with-the-small town hicks plot line (if nothing else, this show is a reminder of how diverse the state of California really is) in far too few episodes, but it was still pretty compelling.
We're now starting to see the diversity of the Jane playbook. In this particular case, we didn't really have any hints, because we didn't get to know the guy who ended up being the murderer. And it was the same for Jane-he didn't have anything to go on. The episode, like Jane, focused on the relationship between Jane and Nicole, and his caring reconstruction of her memory. It was Jane's sensitivity and faith in the town pariah that ended up solving the case. It was not quite as satisfying when they caught the guy, seeing as he was somewhat out of the blue, but the final scene when we see a Nicole on the road to recovery made up for it. It was human drama within a crime drama, which sometimes comes off as Hallmark-Hall-of-Fame-syrupy, but it actually managed to work here-probably because it was just shy of overstated.
So the show's strength continues to be the way it visually and emotionally brings us into the realm of Patrick Jane's mind and walks us through a case much the same way he does. Though this show also expanded our love for Lisbon, and even started to establish that playful banter relationship between her and Jane, superior and subordinate, that will no doubt be a solid source of comic relief in episodes to come. And the best part was, it was actually funny! I really appreciate when the comic relief in a crime drama doesn't make you groan, but is something you can actually laugh at. One more thing that The Mentalist is, so far, getting right.