Atypical Characters

Patrick Jane may indeed be the main attraction to TV series “The Mentalist”. However, what can he do without the help and painstaking cooperation from his team?

“The Mentalist” was fun to watch not only because its unusually, cunning but extremely smart main character, Patrick Jane. It is also because almost all characters regularly appearing on the show were crafted uniquely by the magical hands and brains of the writers and directors. The distinctive traits of each character are, regardless of being incorporated subtly throughout the show, startlingly strong that each character can have a story of his or her own. Take for example, the team of agents in which Jane is assigned to – Teresa Lisbon, Kimbell Cho, Wayne Rigsby and  Grace Van Pelt.

Senior Special Agent Teresa Lisbon, team leader of the “Serious Crime Unit”

In any detective series, I have never seen a woman detective who is not a typical stereotype of a female cop like Agent Teresa Lisbon. Not sure if it’s the actress’ actual upbringing or purely acts, Agent Lisbon’s style of walking and manner of speaking, which seem somewhat indifferent, make the difference. On normal occasion, she would walk as if she was jaywalking, lazy to lift her feet up to make a step or to support her shoulders upright. Instructions she delivers is most of the time effortless, like words after words just come out from her mouth without much thought. When she speaks it is as if no energy was involved in her doing. Even when she purposely thinks, the act seems so light. Now, tell me, where in the world is there such a female detective?

Female cops in most TV series, and even movies, are generally formal and womanly, graceful in their walks, clear and concise in their speech. Let’s consider these detectives for examples: Kate Beckett (of “Castle”), Olivia Benson (of “Law & Order SVU”), Jo Danville (of “CSI New York”), Catherine Willows (of “CSI”) and Michelle McCluskey (of “The Listener”). Have you seen any sleazy manner projected by these characters?

Yes, it is true that some of these characters portray certain uniqueness. Jo Danville, for instance, shows a playful attitude despite her poised composure and intuitive aptitude. However, none of these characters has been written to depict intricacy of upbringing such as how Agent Lisbon has been conceived.

Kimbell Cho is another sophisticated character in the series. Branded by his undefiled poker face, I could say that Cho is actually, like Jane, very playful. However, while Jane rarely looks serious, except in relation to Red John, this special agent of Chinese ethnicity is almost always showing a straight face. People’s first impression of him is that he is unapproachable. Probably this is because he doesn’t open up to most people. But, once you get to know him, he is truly kind-hearted. He often shows no reluctance in backing up Jane’s mischievous plans to reveal the truth from suspects. While their other teammates hesitate, Cho doesn’t – even if at the end the plans turn out to be obviously trivial and a waste of time. He seems to enjoy spending time with Jane, seeing how his atrocity would shine some light to the case. None would expect that the  humorless-looking Cho would fall in love with an outspoken hooker like Summer.

Other than the outstanding  Jane, Lisbon and Cho, the other two team members also deliver their own tastes of characters into the show. The awkwardly tall, arsonist expert, Wayne Rigsby and the rigid, red-haired, somewhat spiritual, newbie, Grace Van Pelt add on to the unique combination of characters in this team of detectives. I wonder if Grace’s hair is the actress’ actual hair; it looks like a wig to me… or, maybe it’s because of her stiffness that makes me think so? Well, find out yourself in “The Mentalist”.


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