The title character from this excellent CBS crime drama, that began with the 2008 season, gets the best quotes throughout the series, due in no small part to his unique abilities and position with the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI). That is not to say that the rest of the CBI team are portrayed as a bunch of incoherent dolts; just that the focus is on Patrick Jane, the so-called mentalist.
The other team members (and some outsiders, for that matter) do have their moments of clever dialogue. This is a well-written show. For example, here is a brief conversation between the lovely Agent Van Pelt and her supervisor, Agent Lisbon:
Lisbon: Main thing is, you keep him in there long enough for us to search his car. Be friendly, he thinks he’s a player. He’ll eat it up.
Van Pelt: What do you mean, “Be friendly?”
Lisbon: Need a map? Good luck.
That said, it is Patrick Jane, very ably played by Simon Baker, who gets the really good stuff. Here are some of his best quotes. There are a great many more, most of which would require a lot of background and context to make sense, if you have not seen the show or the particular episode.
Most of these quotes will come from the first season, because that seems to be when the writing-certainly for the title character-was at its freshest. The show’s writers need to get back to showing us Jane’s powers of deductive reasoning, along the lines of his 19th Century counterpart, Sherlock Holmes, rather than having him look at a suspect and simply proclaim, “He [she] is guilty [innocent], I can tell.” There has been too little of the former and a bit too much of the latter in the succeeding seasons.
With further adon’t, here are those much-ballyhooed quotes.
From the Pilot
(In answer to a question: “You’re psychic?”)
“No, just paying attention.”
That is not only a clever bit of repartee, but a very important one, as it establishes a theme that will permeate the entire series: Patrick Jane knows that all psychics are fakes, especially since he purported to be one himself in the past.
From Episode 4, Season 1
“No badge. No gun. They don’t even give me dental.”
Again, smart, but important, underscoring the important detail that Jane has no police powers. He must rely on his wits to get anything done.
From Episode 6, Season 1
(Describing his impression of the man’s trade to a Las Vegas casino manager)
“There’s no clocks or windows anywhere, so there’s no passage of time. Low-priced alcohol is poured down you by attractive young women. Oxygen is pumped into the place to make you stay awake, and the constant symphony of bells and sirens make it seem like someone is winning all the time.”
Well, with all the genius-level deductive reasoning crowding his active brain, I guess there is little room for syntax.
From Episode 8, Season 1
Lisbon: He made his bed; he can lie in it.
Jane: You know, I’ve never really understood that one. Just ’cause someone makes their bed, do they have to lie in it?
Patrick Jane and Sheldon Cooper: separated at birth?
From Episode 10, Season 1
(In answer to the question: “Do you know what your soul is made of?”)
“Frogs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails.”
Nothing significant here: just a good smart-mouthed wisecrack.
From Episode 22, Season 1
(Addressed to an angry police chief demanding actual facts)
“Well, it’s an actual fact that you dislike Mr. Maclean here because he is a tree-hugging liberal wacko that’s probably running some kind of a cult. And he dislikes you because you are a small-minded provincial hayseed. Not that you are, necessarily; that’s just what he thinks.”
A fine example of the unbridled joy Patrick Jane gets in pushing peoples’ buttons.
From Episode 1, Season 2
“Well, frankly, if I can’t use this job to seek some kind of personal revenge, then there’s not a whole lot here for me…I can’t bring dead people back to life. What good do we do? We drive around California visiting unhappy people.”
The usually good-natured Patrick Jane finally lashes out at the efforts to keep him from pursuing his family’s killer, Red John.
From Episode 5, Season 2
(To Lisbon on the subject of ghosts)
“They don’t exist in your mind, but, if you believe they exist, they exist.”
This provides another real insight into The Mentalist’s mentality, does it not?
In the end, though, no list of quotes, no matter how witty they may be, is going to fully describe a television series, especially one as complex and fascinating as The Mentalist. Those who have been bypassing the show would be doing themselves a considerable favor by getting acquainted with it, starting with its best season so far: the first one.
The episodes themselves