Monday, May 18, 2009

An Immortal Soul

This entry is not actually about our immortal souls at all--per se--but a meditation on the character Patrick Jane from The Mentalist.

My mom and I were watching the pilot episode of The Mentalist last night--which, for those of you who don't keep up with these things, is a great mystery series about a man (the superbly charming Patrick Jane, played by Simon Baker) who used to pretend to be a psychic, but now consults for the California Bureau of Investigation.  We only started watching the show in January, so we're a little behind.  Randomly added thought:  who wears suit jackets and vests anymore?  How very Victorian.

Anywho, at some point in the course of the show, Jane and the CBI team are having dinner at a seafood chain restaurant รก la Red Lobster and Van Pelt confesses that she believes in the afterlife--the "other side"--and that some people might be able to communicate with the dead.  To which Jane responds, "Life is like football--the game ends and that's it, it's over.  This is all there is:  kitschy nautical decor and muzak." 

Van Pelt gives him a pitying look and says, "The kingdom of heaven exists, Mr. Jane.  And you have an immortal soul."

"I certainly hope not," is Patrick Jane's response.

I found his answer very interesting, because the major reason Jane is consulting for the CBI is to help them find a serial kiler named Red John, who murdered Jane's wife and child.  Most people take comfort in the fact (I guess I should say the idea) that human beings have immortal souls and there is an afterlife because it means that their loved ones "live" on, and that they will eventually be reunited, even if it is after death.  But Patrick Jane, whose family was murdered, not only refuses to believe in an afterlife, but hopes he doesn't have an immortal soul.

To my way of thinking, there are only two reasons why he would feel that way:  one, he somehow takes comfort in the fact that he won't be reunited with his family; or two, he thinks if there is an afterlife and such things as immortal souls, he's going to go to hell.

Although we've only received glimpses into Jane's previous incarnation as a fake psychic, we do know that his predictions and advice occasionally harmed people.  It's difficult to imagine the affable and absurdly easy-going Jane as a "bad guy"--to the point that his claims about wreaking wrevenge on Red John seem about equal to the barking of a miniature poodle (i.e., hard to take seriously)--but what if Jane does see himself as a villain?  Exactly how much of a facade does the charming detective employ?  I think that sets us up for a great season finale this Tuesday, when Jane supposedly re-encounters Red John.

If you haven't checked out The Mentalist, you really should--Simon Baker is an absolutely great actor, and the mysteries and writing are usually top-notch.

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