The Mentalist takes the audience back a long way in a flashback episode. It's some time since Jane's wife and child were killed. He wanders into the CBI offices, having learned that the agency has taken over the Red John case from the Sacramento police. He looks disheveled. Lisbon tells him they really can't talk to him and asks Hannigan (Gary Basaraba) to escort him out. So there's a Hannigan and no Van Pelt. Hannigan is very brusque and obviously not all that interested in Jane (Simon Baker). Jane asks him why he was passed over for promotion in favor of Lisbon (Robin Tunney). He winds up provoking Hannigan into punching him.
This leads Minelli (Gregory Itzin) to bend over backwards to make Jane happy (and less likely to sue the agency), which is how Jane winds up going with Lisbon on an investigation. This seems insane, doesn't it? At any rate, when he gets there, Hannigan tells Jane that the victim must have been shot where he lies because there are no drag marks. He goes on and on and Jane turns away, lightheaded. Lisbon asks Cho (Tim Kang), who takes note of Jane's presence and then promptly ignores him, to check into Winston Dillinger's whereabouts before he died. Jane tells them to find the woman he was with. Lisbon looks at him, and Jane explains that Dillinger is dressed up and smells of alcohol, cologne, and breath mints.
Jane goes with Lisbon to Dillinger's parents house to make the notification call. Dillinger's father is an appellate court judge. The judge (David Clennon) already knows, and comes out to talk to them out of his wife's hearing. Jane unsurprisingly upsets him with his questioning, although more cluelessly than purposefully this early on. Dillinger admits to being disappointed in his son, although he cloaks it as disappointment in himself.
Jane was right about the date, of course, and Kelly Burbage (Amanda Clayton) comes into the office. She tells them about her violent ex, Emmet Cox (Ryan Ahern), and how he called her to say he was following Winston. They bring Cox in, but Cox claims he lost Winston while he was following him. Cho goes to talk to Sacramento Det. Kim (Ian Anthony Dale) who investigated Winston in a deadly hit and run. Kim's at a bar he's working at to make extra money, and tells Cho that he was lucky to get Winston with DUI because there were no witnesses and the blood they found on his car didn't belong to the victim. CBI talks to Dos Santos (Kirk Aevedo), the widower of the hit and run victim, as well as the victim's mother.
Meanwhile, the Red John files are brought up for Jane. Lisbon really wants to keep him from obsessing, and impulsively asks him for help with the case. She says that she thinks his gifts will help crack the case. Jane refutes the idea that he has a gift, but Lisbon waves the objection aside, and says whatever it is he does, it seems to work.
So they bring all the suspects together into one room. Burbage, Cox, Dillinger, both Dos Santos and his former mother-in-law and Det. Kim. Jane asks if Lisbon has a tarot deck. Weirdly, the CBI doesn't have one (not weird at really) so Jane draws some cards. He asks the suspects to draw the one that most represents their nightmares. After they do, he is able to pinpoint all the dreams and what cards each selected, only it looks like he's wrong about Cox, except he's not. Det. Kim swapped cards because he was afraid that Jane could read him.
Det. Kim is a silent partner in the bar he works in. The bar lost a suit when a patron was assaulted. Dillinger heard the appeal, and he approached him about deciding in the bar's favor in exchange for swapping the blood sample. The judge agreed and it was done. Then the night of the murder, Winston called him up, demanding him come down because he had hit someone again. He wanted him to clean it up. He felt owed because his father had helped with the case. When Det. Kim got there, he realized that Winston was going to be an albatross around his neck forever and he killed him. He asks Cho whether the hit and run victim had been found. It turns out that Winston hit a deer.
As the case was such a stunning success, Minelli decides to hire Jane on as a consultant. Hannigan is not pleased and transfers out. Cho and Rigsby (who's sporting a van dyke beard) go through files of possible candidates to take Hannigan's place. Rigsby sees Van Pelt's file and says he likes the look of this one. Cho agrees she's cute and that she's entirely out of Rigsby's league. Van Pelt is not in the episode at all, possibly because of Amanda Righetti's real life pregnancy.
Minelli receives a call from FBI agent Alexa Schultz (Polly Walker). She wants to be kept in the loop on the Red John investigation. Minelli isn't averse, but wants to know what's in it for him. Schultz tells him that Jane has spent some time in a mental hospitality. Shultz is in a limo. Know who else is in the limo? Apparently Red John.
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