The second episode of The Mentalist provided a twisting storyline that served as enjoyable entertainment while building upon the characters and conflicts on the serious crimes team of the California Bureau of Investigations (CBI) introduced in the pilot. It also stands well on its own as a singular episode. Sub plots that deepened included the romantic attraction Rigsby has for VanPelt and the constant interplay of Jane's observations, often presented with considerable attitude and smirk, with Lisbon's trained eye for crime, along with her indulgent trust in Jane.
'Red Hair and Silver Tape' slithered its plot around the death of a red-headed waitress named Melanie O' Keefe in small town California. Jane asserted the murder was accidental when they observed the victim at the crime scene covered in silver tape. The local sheriff, Lisbon, and Cho put forth other theories, such as Cho suspecting drug involvement. One of the highlights of this episode was Jane playing rock-paper-scissors with the local sheriff at the crime scene to prove his powers of prediction come from observation and not psychic powers. The four of them informed the victim's family of the murder, and Jane formed a relationship with the deceased's young brother who made various attempts to avenge his sister's death throughout the episode. After speaking to the family, the team made their way to the redhead's workplace and a whole slew of suspects were introduced. The team also discovered Melanie was dating Hector Ramirez, the local-drug-runner-cousin of one of Melanie's coworkers.
From this point, the serious crimes team followed the many suspects through to another surprising conclusion, and we learned that Jane needs Lisbon, too, when she saved him from the same fate as Melanie. And he was not even a redhead. From the second show, the theme of red enters the series, and red becomes part of the name and the conceptual framework of each episode.