We kickoff tonight’s Mentalist at Leyland University in California, where Professor Alex Maxwell collapses during a lecture. Back at the office, Patrick gets a phone call from Sophie Miller and is visibly shaken. He tells Lisbon that he needs a favor and they head to investigate Alex Nelson’s death.
They question Patrick’s friend Sophie and it’s nice to see Elisabeth Rohm again. I’m a big fan of hers from Angel. It turns out she was previously married to Alex and had plenty of access to hydrogen cyanide, the substance that killed Alex. Lisbon is concerned that Patrick’s friend might actually be guilty and Patrick is secretive about his connection to Sophie, but insists she didn’t do it.
The local cops show the CBI team a poster hung all over campus by an animal rights group that basically laudes Alex Nelson’s death. The university chancellor comes to see the team, wanting assurances that prestigious Dr. Stutzer, who worked with Professor Nelson, has protection and won’t be attacked by any animal rights group too.
Lisbon corners Patrick about the truth regarding his relationship with Sophie Miller. He confesses that she was his psychiatrist when he was in a mental hospital following his wife and daughter’s murders. He is clearly ashamed of having had a breakdown and Lisbon thanks him for being honest.
Van Pelt and Rigsby are reviewing campus security tapes and researching the animal rights group. Cho says anybody could’ve poisoned Nelson, there was no security at the lecture hall. On campus, Lisbon and Patrick meet Nelson’s teaching assistant, who clearly had a thing for her professor.
They speak with Dr. Stutzer (hey, it’s Anspaugh from Cook County General!), who tells them that their department has identified the section of the brain that governs moral decision-making. He calls it the source of good and evil, which seems oversimplifying to me but… whatever. He says a person’s soul is electricity and that morality is a binary switch system. They use animals to poke around within a mammal’s brain. He shows them Susie the chimp. They recalibrated her brain to make her nicer. Yikes.
Patrick asks if they have ever been threatened by animal rights groups before and he says of course. Lisbon tells him he’ll be guarded and he shows her his six-shooter pistol that he uses to protect himself. Huh. He then goes on a tirade about irradicating violence and creating a world of peace, as some bongo-drum-coconut-island music plays in the background. Weird.
Stutzer shows them his human testing for this experiement, which only shows a guy choosing to save a homeless man from a fire versus a briefcase full of money. Yes, that proves that violence is gone. Outside, Lisbon and Patrick run into Dr. Miller. Patrick is quite the smitten kitten around her, it’s unnerving. She confides to him that she left clinical practice because she has her own issues. Patrick wants to know what was up with her and Professor Nelson and she says she’s just drawn to controlling damaged and emotionally unavailable men. Yikes. This throws an interesting wrench in the works.
Patrick insists that he’d do anything to help her because of how she helped him but that she’s innocent so why does she need his help. She says maybe she just wanted to see him again and walks off. He then flashes back to being in the mental hospital and meeting Dr. Miller. Patrick looks shaken again.
Van Pelt, Rigsby and Cho find 5 names that cross-reference Leyland University alums with Northwestern Oregon State alums. A logo of NWOS is on a van near the murder scene. There is only one name on both lists that lives in the area who is a known animal rights activist, so they head for a warehouse he owns. They find him with about six cats, sitting in a chair and apparently playing video games. Yeah. Dangerous.
At the office, the crackpot guy is Howie Daubert and he confesses to killing Nelson and says he’ll kill Stutzer too, then tries to leave so he can feed his cats. He’s one kitten short of a litter, I’d say. Lisbon tells them to call the mental health department and she and Patrick head to speak to the widow.
Mrs. Nelson (Emily) is in the midst of planning the funeral and refers the florist to the chancellor so she can speak with the team. Emily confides that she couldn’t understand her husband’s work but that she heard him shouting at a woman named Rosie on the phone a few weeks ago. Patrick and Lisbon hypothesize that Rosie may have been Carrie Sheehan, the teaching assistant, and head to her house.
At the house, they find Carrie slumped over with a bottle of poison nearby. Lisbon tells the EMT’s "not to run the lights." So Carrie is dead and she has left a note that says, "Forgive me." Hmmm. Too easy. The coroner says she was poisoned with cyanide and Van Pelt finds pictures ripped up of Professor Nelson and Carrie.
We come back to the chancellor. It’s totally him, he’s so skeazy. He played the Bulgarian Ambassador who was sleeping with the Bulgarian Prime Minister’s daughter on the West Wing and also got a tinge racist with Charlie. He’s good at playing skeazy.
The intrepid team thinks it’s a staged suicide but Patrick argues against it. Lisbon insists that Sophie is the last viable suspect and he demands they go ask Sophie about it. Cho, Rigsby and Van Pelt drink coffee and eat donuts. They don’t do much this episode.
Sophie shows off her experiement that can manipulate her subject’s morality choices with electrical impulses and Patrick wants to join in as both test subject and controller. Lisbon heads that conversation off at the pass and asks to speak to Sophie in private about Carrie and Professor Nelson. Lisbon can’t believe Carrie talked to Sophie about her affair with a married man and Sophie gets defensive about Alex, insisting she wasn’t still in love with him. Lisbon brings up "Rosie" from Nelson’s conversation and every time the name is mentioned the monkey next door goes crazy. Lisbon asks to speak with Sophie alone.
Alone, he asks her to tell him the truth. She confesses that Rosie is the monkey next door, which she switched with Susie the Nice Monkey who wasn’t really nice to prove her point and falsify her data. She insists they are close to a breakthrough and have been making up data so they can keep at it. Professor Nelson was going to confess their experiment problems at the symposium and Patrick thinks it was Sophie.
She says she doesn’t know who killed Alex but Patrick is upset simply because she didn’t give him all the facts. He tells her that if she had anything to do with the murders she better get on a plane to Brazil. Flashback to them in the mental hospital. Each flashback has been progessively more intimate, I wonder if they slept together. Back in the present, she insists she had nothing to do with the murders.
The office. Patrick fakes an affirmative response from Evil President Logan to his team and we cut to Sophie telling Dr. Stutzler that their morality engine works. She spews out some scientific stuff and whisks him off to a demonstration involving Patrick as the test subject. Patrick answers the first question morally but then she "makes him evil." Patrick then answers immorally and Dr. Stutzer is ecstatic and says they must tell the chancellor.
When the chancellor shows up, Patrick leaves the experiement still "calibrated for evil." He then locks the chancellor and Dr. Stutzer in an office and points Stutzer’s six-shooter at them and demands to know who killed Professor Nelson and Carrie. Because the gun that is introduced in the first act MUST go off in the third act. When they won’t tell him, he "shoots" Sophie. This gets the chancellor to confess to the murders. He killed them to protect the fraud they were perpetrating with their research.
Sophie is revealed to be still alive and the chancellor tries to insist nothing he said is admissible. Lisbon arrests him and Dr. Stutzer is aghast that the morality engine doesn’t work. Outside, Patrick and Sophie chit chat about her future now. She’s going back to psychiatry and they share a moment. Interesting.
Lisbon teases him about Sophie. It’s all very junior high. They argue about who should drive and he is touched she’d relinquish control of the vehicle to make him feel better. Hopefully this relationship goes somewhere once they are back from winter hiatus.
Overall, not the best episode. I didn’t love the storyline, it was boring and weird. I did like the dynamic between Patrick and Sophie and how jealous it made Lisbon, but I didn’t love how the other 3 musketeers were shunted to the background. What did you guys think?