The Mentalist fits into one of the newer genius misfit sub-genre of tv shows. Similar to House the entire show rests on the shoulders of the main character. Inevitably it is impossible to not notice the similarities between these two shows even if one is medical and the other is crime.
Patrick Jane and House are highly perceptive to the point that they stand out and purposely or not humiliate their peers. The Mentalist starts off at the conclusion of a crime scene with Jane entering the victim's house and through observation alone causes the arguably deserved death of the guilty incestuous father. "Honestly! It's not as bad as it looks!" Just as virtually every House episode results in much torturous (often crossing borderline illegal) examination methods before reaching the right diagnosis, Jane uses questionable tactics to "close cases".
This episode introduces not only the team that Jane works with but sets the motivational back story for Patrick Jane working for the FBI and lays groundwork for the elusive antagonist for the series. Teresa Lisbon takes the serious work focused Cuddy role from House with Jane continually going behind her back and getting the team members unwittingly strung along. Whilst in this episode more focus is on Jane this becomes increasingly noticeable further throughout the season.
Whilst we're playing guess who did it from the hidden clues laid into the episode, Jane more realistically keeps his cards to the chest and treats the case like a game. Trying to spot why Jane has a suspicious or curious look in a certain scene keeps us playing and retrospective witted foreshadowing such as "text book Red John" (from Cho) makes it more fun to watch.
Unlike House, there isn't a clear moment of dawning realisation. We can guess who did it quite easily in this episode but just like how the first episode of any tv show preps us for the rest of the season it's equally entertaining trying to guess how Jane sets up the criminal even if he isn't sure who it is yet. All I can say is once you're at the end you are drawn to wanting to watch the next episode.