For the romantic moment of the month, we’re highlighting Jane and Lisbon from The Mentalist.
I recently finished all seven seasons of the CBS crime procedural, The Mentalist. Yeah, I know I’m a bit late to the party as the final episode aired in 2015! But it didn’t seem that appealing. How wrong I was. Besides the always charismatic Simon Baker in the lead role, the slow-build romance between Jane and Lisbon (Robin Tunney) was a delight to watch.
The series tells the story of Patrick Jane, a mentalist and former pretend “psychic” that once used his abilities to con people. But when he challenges the famous serial killer, Red John, the murderer kills his wife and daughter to teach him a lesson.
Move forward five years, and Jane is now a consultant for CBI (the California version of the FBI), helping them solve crimes while also hunting down Red John (a plot that goes all the way through season six).
He partners up with Teresa Lisbon (and a few CBI team members), as he uses his genius intellect and mind games to solve every case they get.
THE SETUP: JANE AND LISBON
Over time, Jane and Lisbon grow closer as partners, friends, and eventually lovers. But it’s a slow burn – a really slow burn. Both Jane and Lisbon are guarded, very independent individuals who aren’t used to opening up to others or sharing their feelings.
While it’s unclear exactly when Jane falls in love with Lisbon and vice versa, I argue that when Jane (who doesn’t care if he lives or dies – only about getting his revenge on Red John) chooses to save Lisbon’s life at the end of season one over getting more information on Red John, it’s the beginning of Patrick’s realization. Even if he keeps it to himself for a very long time. He’s good at that.
Certainly, by the end of season four, when Patrick Jane cryptically tells Teresa he loves her (a random declaration he never explains), he’s already completely aware of his feelings.
With Lisbon, it’s even more of a mystery. She’s not an open character, she rarely dates, and she doesn’t like to talk about her feelings. It’s clear she’s attracted to him over the years and loves him but probably holds back because she’s one, afraid of being vulnerable, and two, Jane isn’t exactly relationship material.
Everything changes, however, when they finally solve the Red John case in season six. Patrick goes into hiding for two years (since he killed Red John) while writing letters to Teresa.
Eventually, he returns, making a deal to stay out of prison if he works for the FBI in Texas. One of Jane’s list of requirements to accept their agreement? Have Lisbon also join the team as an FBI agent.
So, Jane and Lisbon work together once again. After the Red John plot resolves, the rest of the series becomes more about finding a way for Lisbon and Jane to have a romantic happy ending while helping them each resolve their emotional issues. So how do you bring two people together who are used to being alone?
When Lisbon meets another FBI agent, Marcus Pike (played by the always fantastic Pedro Pascal), and begins dating him seriously, Jane must decide if he’s going to tell Lisbon how he feels or if he’s going to say nothing as she marries another man and moves away to D.C.
“IT’S A VERY SORT OF JANE AUSTEN TYPE OF ROMANCE”
Before I jump into the romantic moment, I want to share a quote about the intention of the love story between Lisbon and Jane as envisioned by the show’s creator, Bruno Heller. In an interview, he describes their romance:
“These two are never going to be “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” because that’s not who they are. Both Jane and Lisbon are private, self-contained, protective people. So it’s a love story – but it’s not a very conventional love story. It’s a love story that is consonant with the relationship they’ve had, which is the interesting thing about it. When we started, it was very much… brother/sister is the wrong way to describe it, but it’s that kind of familial affection that over time has turned into something more.
That, to a degree, makes the romance harder for both characters to negotiate because they’re not fiery, passionate, crazy people. They’re people who need to work their way towards seeing how this will play out in the future. It’s a very sort of Jane Austen type of romance – the good ones in Jane Austen. The ones you devoutly wish to be consummated [are] between two people who have known each other for years, and you can see that they’re made for each other – not in a fiery, kind of crazy way. But just in a human, gentle, correct way.”– Bruno Heller
It’s this comparison to Jane Austen I love. Personally, I tend to like more authentic, heartfelt romantic moments than flowery superficial romance or anything related to lust more than love.
That’s what makes Jane and Lisbon so appealing. The buildup, and how hard it is for them to come together, make it interesting and authentic. Jane and Lisbon are intellectual soulmates – my favorite kind.
And that brings me to the romantic moment I want to highlight.
ROMANTIC MOMENT: JANE’S ROMANTIC DECLARATION OF LOVE
At the end of season six, episode “Blue Bird,” Jane is finally trying to “romance” Lisbon. But it’s gone awry when his romantic games end up upsetting Teresa instead of wooing her.
Rather than share his feelings, he safely reverted to his habit of playing games, protecting his vulnerability. In response, Lisbon decides to accept Pike’s marriage offer and decides to fly to D.C. to be with him that night.
Later, Jane has an epiphany. He must tell her how he feels, or he will lose her forever. She isn’t going to change her mind this time and return unless Jane does something.
So, after solving the murder case of the week, Patrick asks for his boss Abbot’s car keys, so he can use the siren for rushing to the airport to catch Lisbon in time.
On the way, he tries to call her, his voice growing more desperate. The fear has set in. He might lose her. When he arrives at the airport, he runs in true rom-com style to reach Teresa before she flies away. Patrick even uses the FBI ruse to get through the crowds quicker.
Unfortunately, he forgot his I.D., and they won’t let him through to the plane. Meanwhile, Teresa continues to board the plane. It’s tense at this point. Will Patrick make it in time? Or will we be left with a cliffhanger ending going into season 7?
As Lisbon takes her seat, Patrick runs to the back of the airport and jumps the gate outside to reach the airplane, hurting his ankle in the process. Nothing is going to stop him. He’s going to be genuinely vulnerable for the first time in over a decade.
He hurries inside the plane, again yelling “FBI!” to get the flight attendants to let him in. He hurries down the aisle and finds Teresa.
“There you are!” he says, relieved.
“What are you doing here?” Lisbon asks, surprised to see him on her flight.
“There’s something I need to say,” Patrick confesses. But she doesn’t want to hear him and tells him to go away. She’s still mad at him.
“You’re right…I have forgotten how to act like a normal human being. And I play games and I lie, and I trick people to avoid the truth of how I feel,” he admits as his voice begins to catch with emotion. “And the idea of letting anyone close to me is – is terrifying for obvious reasons. But the truth, Teresa, is that I can’t imagine waking up knowing that I won’t see you.”
Teresa, taken aback by his words, tries to suppress her own tears as they threaten to appear.
And then comes the big confession, something he’s held in for years. “The truth is…I love you,” Jane tells her with authentic emotion and love in his voice.
Teresa looks down, around, unsure of how to respond.
“Whew!” he sighs in relief. “You can’t imagine how good that feels to say out loud, but it scares me…and it is the truth. It is the truth of what I feel.” Jane’s on the verge of fully crying now.
“It’s too late, Jane. It’s too late,” Teresa tells him. And maybe it is. He waited too long, to be honest.
“Maybe. And I understand. It’s okay. I needed to get to this. And you deserve to hear it,” Jane admits selflessly. He’s willing to lose her if that’s what she wants. But he needed to be honest with her about his emotions.
With that, a policeman comes to take him away, arresting him. As the officer pulls Patrick away from Teresa, he continues to yell out:
“I Love you, Teresa! And it makes me happy to be able to say that to you.” He then turns to the officer and the other passengers, telling them how he feels. He’s shouting it now from the rooftops for all to hear. “I love her. That woman in 12B – I love her. You take care of her!”
Lisbon is left in her seat, trying to figure out how to feel about this whole declaration. She turns to the woman in the seat next to her and apologizes. “That was embarrassing,” Teresa says, as she wipes her tears away with a tissue.
“Oh, shush, honey,” the woman responds. “Every woman on this plane is green with envy.” Lisbon again sits in contemplation. What will she decide to do?
A short while later, Jane sits in custody at the airport in a holding room. Lisbon soon enters the room, immediately raising Patrick’s spirits.
“Hey,” Lisbon says as she sits down.
Hi,” he says with a hopeful smile. Lisbon didn’t leave!
“This is another fine pickle you’ve gotten yourself in, huh?” Lisbon jokes.
Teasing and banter is their thing. “Eh, I’ve seen worse, pickle-wise,” he responds.
They continue to exchange small conversations, not yet addressing the elephant in the room. Teresa asks about his ankle. Getting closer, he points out that she didn’t go to D.C.
The tension is growing, and you can feel it. “Did you mean what you said?” Lisbon asks him, clearly referring to his love declaration. But he turns her question into a joke, asking if she’s asking about pickles.
“No, no. The other thing,” Lisbon says, trying to turn him serious.
“Oh, that!” He says, feigning surprise.
“This is no joking matter,” she tells him, meaning it.
He gets serious: “Yes. I meant what I said, every word of it.”
And then comes the moment of declaration for Teresa: “Good. Because I feel the same way,” she confesses.
“Well, that’s lucky,” he says with his signature boyish smile. The two smile at each other and exchange a few more words, but Lisbon only wants to talk about his feelings.
“Say it again,” she commands, perhaps trying to make his declaration feel more real.
“Say what again? He asks playfully.
But instead of saying he loves her, he stands up and begins to lean toward Lisbon across the table. He caresses her chin, pulling her toward him gently, and gives her a sweet, heartfelt kiss telling her his feelings with actions. The two pull apart and smile.
And that’s the cliffhanger into the final season of the series. The last season all leads up to Lisbon and Jane dealing with their different emotional hang-ups and issues so they can finally come together and marry! It’s a lovely ending to the series: a wedding…and a baby reveal. It’s the perfect happy ending for a show that had a lot of tragedy.
What I love about this moment is that it’s steeped in genuine emotion and real love. These are two people who belong together, who are ready to become more after years of being friends.
Plus, it’s hard not to swoon at Patrick Jane (as played perfectly by Baker) as he makes his romantic declaration. It’s a moment you can watch over and over. It feels real, sweet, and just right.
And yes, you may just finish watching this scene green with envy. That’s when you know a romantic moment on screen is a memorable one.
ROMANTIC MOMENT OF THE MONTH: HOW IT WILL WORK MOVING FORWARD
Before we leave, we wanted to announce a few changes to this monthly column.
Romantic Moment of the Month (which used to be of the week) has evolved since we first introduced the column in 2013. Today, we announce new adjustments to this monthly feature.
As a shift, the romantic moment of the month column will move from the final Saturday of the month to the first Saturday since it fits better into our writing schedule.
Before, we rotated between highlighting classic romantic moments (anything that wasn’t within the most recent two months) and new romantic moments. However, we found it challenging to stay on top of that many shows and movies looking for the “best” romantic moments that aired/released within a two-month window. It just wasn’t sustainable.
We will now choose and write about romantic moments that move us – typically moments that highlight old-fashioned romance elements. So, whatever inspires us to write that month. That means anything goes – new or old.
We love highlighting unforgettable romantic moments from film and television, and we hope you’ll follow this column!
So, did you watch The Mentalist? Did you like Jane and Lisbon as a couple? How did you feel about this scene? Discuss below!
Photo Credit: CBS