The Mentalist: “Scarlett Fever”

The episode opens at the Marquesa residence, which is bursting at the seams with fancy people. “Scarlett throws the best parties,” insist a bevy of beauties who are making the rounds inside.

Ah, but the hostess with the mostest soon comes running out of the powder room, foaming at the mouth, and then takes a header off the top landing into the gathering below.

Which is one way to crash your own party.

Back at headquarters, Patrick is hypnotizing a hardened convict-type named George. Only George is presently one “happy and relaxed” convict, by his own admission, thanks to Patrick’s winning way with hypnotism. Lisbon busts in with news. Awkward, given that Ms. By-The-Books frowns upon hypnotizing suspects. “Illegal,” and “immoral,” are but a few of her petty gripes pertaining to this scenario. Whereas Patrick is good-looking and charming, which everyone knows is a universal trump to…everything else.

The team arrives at the scene of the crime. Rigsby declares it a poisoning as Patrick studies the room. As the M.E. begins to move the body, Patrick notices something weird about Scarlett’s corpse. He tears up the stairs, noting that she had more mascara on one eye than the other – so he guesses she was halfway through reapplying her makeup when she was poisoned. He and Rigsby head to the bathroom where indeed, not far from a discarded mascara wand is an empty cocktail glass, and a cocktail napkin upon which the words, “Now we’re even” are scrawled in lipstick.

The next day, Patrick and Lisbon are driving through the fancy gated community which the Marquesas called home. Apparently it’s hard times for even those whose cocktail parties aren’t cut short by violent crime. The “For Sale” signs are in full bloom on every other mansion lawn and in the sad, lonely expanses of Hummer windshields parked in the driveways therein.

They arrive at the Marquesa residence. On his doorstep, Victor Marquesa is being consoled by a pair of “good friends” – Mandy and Azura. Azura is such a good friend, she is stroking Victor’s face during his time of need.

P.J. and Lisbon follow Victor inside, where he hands over Scarlett’s purse for their perusal. They inform the grieving widower that his wife’s drink was laced with rat poison. Son Oscar bursts into the room doing his best Captain Jack Sparrow impersonation. Victor can’t believe anyone would murder his wife! “Not even Azura?” asks Patrick. ‘Cause mistresses and wives tend to have a bone to pick with each other. Victor is offended! He explains that Azura is the accounts manager for his business, thank you very much. Ohhhhhhh. Patrick understands now – though he doesn’t bother to share with the rest of the class. He wonders where Scarlett’s keys are, since they aren’t in her purse. Victor wishes he knew, ‘cause he’d like to move her car. Maybe to make room for the small squadron of additional lady well wishers who will be tearing up his driveway? Who knows.

Victor goes on to explain that he’s a real estate developer. Sure, business had been tough recently, but he’s confident things were gonna rally. Eventually. Meanwhile, Scarlett designed jewelry – which grew into a legitimate side enterprise beyond the typical “rich wife dabbling in aromatherapy” stuff. “She made a good business out of it,” says hubby. Patrick asks to see some of Scarlett’s handiwork. Victor produces a tray of trinkets. Patrick ooohs appreciatively.

Lisbon isn’t on board with Patrick’s focus on hand-beaded baubles. Were there any weirdos or deviants at the party, she inquires? Any strange episodes? No. Just “good friends,” insists Victor. (All evidence to the contrary.) Lisbon requests a guest list. Victor adds that Scarlett was recently elected chair of the women’s committee at the country club. Which was a “big deal.” Mostly to other women at the country club.

Lisbon and Patrick excuse themselves. Upon exiting the mansion, Lisbon wants to know why Patrick was all up in that woman Azura’s business. P.J. notes the “dinner theatre” way she extended her condolences and farewell to Victor. He first pegged it as an affair gone awry, but maybe there’s simply some old-fashioned embezzlement afoot.

Patrick and Rigsby visit the country club. Rigsby has the murderer pegged as a woman, what with that whole ominous message on the cocktail napkin having been scrawled in lipstick. Or it could have been a “cunning man posing as a woman,” suggests Patrick. He’s all over those unexpected angles.

There’s a tennis tournament underway. A woman named Heather is announcing the lineups over a P.A. system when she is approached by Patrick and Risgby. They tell her they’d like to interview the women’s committee members, if she might be so kind as to summon them discreetly. She does so via loudspeaker – because hellooooo? Country club women’s committee. Everybody is all up in everybody else’s business anyway.

Off to the side, Heather introduces Patience, Mandy and Jackie, and the claws are quickly unsheathed. Jackie makes veiled comments about Scarlett having enemies. “Speak your mind, bitch,” encourages Patience. It’s on. Jackie insists Patience was jealous of Scarlett’s appointment as committee chair after Scarlett “whipped her butt” in the election. Jackie and Patience argue over who is the bigger idiot between them. (Mandy is staying out of it, in case you’re keeping score.) Lots of “Mrrrrreeeeeeeeoooow, hissssss!” sounds follow.

Patrick and Rigsby decide it might be better to question these ladies one on one.

They question Heather first, who describes the party as the “usual mojitos and chit chat.” Well, except for Azura and Scarlett getting into that argument. There were rumors of an affair between Azura and Victor, but Heather wouldn’t know about any of that. She doesn’t follow gossip. “Who does?” asks Patrick.

They find themselves questioning Mandy next, who cops to the title of resident gossip queen and admits that “people tell me things.” Only no one has told her anything about Azura and Victor having an affair, and she finds the idea preposterous. Azura and Victor were only good friends. She’s sure of it. Patrick wants the scoop on who everyone is fingering for the crime. Mandy thinks it’s Victor. Just because 90 percent of the time, it’s the husband, she points out. Rigsby scoffs at this. It’s only, like, 70 percent of the time.

Cut to Patience on the rampage – on the tennis court, anyway. After the game, as she’s packing up, Patrick sidles up to her. Only Patience – rather inappropriately named, it turns out – doesn’t tolerate small talk well. She admits she hated Scarlett, but that doesn’t make her a killer. Patrick notes that Patience hates to lose. “Yes,” she says, “Unlike all those many people that love it.” She shoots him daggers and speaks in contemptible tones. But she’s willing to throw him a bone and solve the case for him. She figures – nay…she knows – that Azura killed Scarlett. ‘Cause Azura was having an affair with Victor. Patience is not sure why, though, ‘cause Victor is a total loser.

Next Rigsby and Patrick are visiting Jackie in the Chairwoman’s office. Jackie was Scarlett’s “deputy” – because country club women’s business is nearly as multi-layered and complex as mob business. Maybe bloodier. Jackie shares that she and Scarlett were close and talked every day. Patrick wants to know if Jackie has a key to that there safe over in the corner. Heavens, no. That’s the Chairwoman’s safe. Only the Chairwoman has the key. Well, or only whoever stole the Chairwoman’s keys has the key. Meanwhile, Jackie is eyeballing Rigsby like he’s the last hot dog on the grill at a fourth of July cookout.

Back at headquarters, Lisbon wants to know if they made any progress with Scarlett’s friends? Patrick is pretty sure they’re all hiding something.

Grace and Cho are bringing up the rear, with Cho waiting on results from forensics about the mysterious lipstick-scrawled note, and Grace delving into financials. As luck would have it, Azura Adami’s cleaned out all of her accounts that very morning. No receipts for rat poison in and amongst her list of assets, alas. Cho then gets a call in which he’s informed that a residential security patrol reports Ms. Adami’s house is empty. She’s gone fugitive, Lisbon fears. Psssh! Patrick knows where she might be.

Cut to Rigsby and Grace storming into a hotel room, where Azura is being a very good friend…..only not to Victor, but to Mandy.

Back at headquarters, Grace begs Lisbon to let her run the interview. She’s been singing the backup singer “doo wops” for six whole months already, and wants her crack at center stage. Lisbon is OK with that.

Grace and Lisbon are questioning Azura. “Why were you on the run?” demands Grace. “What about that argument with Scarlett the night she died?” Azura says the murder would have brought a lot of “issues” into the light – her affair with Mandy being just one of them. Then there’s the fact that she’d been skimming money out of Victor’s accounts.

Meanwhile, Mandy is irritated that she has been summoned to answer more questions. Since when was having hot lesbian sex behind your husband’s back a crime? Rigsby points out that having hot lesbian sex with a murder suspect is another matter altogether. Cho walks in and says they won’t have a search warrant for Scarlett’s office till tomorrow morning – but then they can tear the place apart. Doh! He didn’t mean to say that in front of the country club gossip queen! Did he? Rigsby really hopes Mandy won’t be passing that bit of information on! Really.

Grace and Lisbon are visiting Victor. He’s shocked by Azura’s financial duplicity. Grace and Lisbon are shocked at the fact that hefty deposits were being made into Victor and Scarlett’s personal accounts on a regular basis, despite Victor’s business struggles. Victor chalks it up to Scarlett’s jewelry business picking up – she said something about cutting a deal with a few boutiques. He never got into specifics with her. He gets a little touchy when he has to admit that she was keeping them afloat in recent months.

When Grace mentions Scarlett’s use of disposable cell phones, and a running weekly appointment in a nearby town called Marysville, Victor doesn’t know much about that stuff either, beyond that there was an antique jewelry mart there. Well, that’s what Scarlett told him, anyway. At this point, it seems safe to dismiss Victor as something of a chump.

Lisbon gets a call from Cho. The lipstick on the napkin offered up no DNA, but the shade “Tongue in Cheek” was part of an exclusive boutique line. That’s a lead for another time, however. Lisbon would like Cho to meet them at the Marysville address that was scrawled in Scarlett’s daytimer.

Meanwhile, Rigsby and Patrick are back at the country club. Patrick spots Heather and excuses himself, leaving Rigsby to fend off Jackie’s cougar moves a few yards away. Patrick asks Heather who’s winning, but she isn’t into tennis tournaments any more than she is into gossip. She admits that all of this finery lost its luster after her sixteen year old daughter was killed in a car accident. Drugs were involved. When you lose a child, all this other stuff seems ridiculous, she says. Patrick can relate. He can also relate to how losing a child can turn a parent into an unwavering vigilante, but what are the chances that will prove relevant for Heather?

Cut to Marysville, where the putting greens and tennis courts give way to some fast and furious, down and dirty motorcross racing! Weirdly, no one is hawking antique jewelry in booths on the side. What business would a country club chairwoman have here? Hmmmm. The gang is about to find out.

They split up. Cho is cruising the ground when he spots a drug deal going down. The seller splits – right into the path of an oncoming bike. Which makes him pretty easy to apprehend.

Meanwhile, Patrick and Rigsby are staking out the Chairwoman’s office. Since Mandy has presumably spread the word about the safe being opened tomorrow, it’s “now or never” for whoever took Scarlett’s keys, says Patrick.

They sit. They wait.

Back at the bike race, Lisbon and Grace are questioning Cho’s collar. Wardell Suggs, a.k.a. Digger. Lisbon wants to know why he was meeting Scarlett. He seems surprised she’s dead. When they turn over his van, it’s a veritable pharmacy. He says Scarlett was one of his biggest customers. Diet pills, painkillers, tranqs. By the hundreds. Seems the jewelry business wasn’t panning out for Scarlett. Whereas drugs never go out of style.

Digger adds that one of Scarlett’s friends started calling him a few weeks earlier, saying Scarlett referred her. Same prissy country club women’s committee voice, says Digger. Didn’t get her name, but got her number. Lisbon thinks he should give her a call right now.

Back at the Chairwoman’s office, Patience’s cell phone gets a call from Digger right as she’s helping herself to the contents of the Chairwoman’s safe. Double dipping in trouble will of course guarantee her her turn in the hot seat.

Back at headquarters, Patience tells Rigsby that yeah, she took the keys when she paid Victor a condolences call. She only opened the safe out of curiosity, which wasn’t a crime last time she checked. Mostly she went to measure the office for curtains, seeing as how she’s a shoe-in for that Chairwoman job now. Rigsby wants to know if she was aware Scarlett was pushing pills. “Who didn’t know?” asks Patience. “Except for you all.” Then she rips Rigsby a new one for apparently wanting to book her for possession of…….borrowed keys.

Lisbon finds Patience to be a “piece of work,” but alas, that’s not a crime. They have to let her walk.

Cho and Rigsby are keeping tabs on Patience by casing her house in their van. Rigsby asks Cho what he thinks about older women. Cho doesn’t know where he’s going with this. Because Cho is a robot. Rigsby, on the other hand, did some googling, and has discovered that older women are at their sexual peak, which he finds interesting, because……..

Patience comes goosestepping out of the house toward the van. She brings the boys a spare panini (which is what rich people call “sandwiches”) and tells them she’ll be going for a massage next.

Lisbon and Patrick are breaking it to Victor that his wife was a drug dealer. Victor can’t believe it! Patrick can’t believe that Victor can’t believe it, given that everyone else knew! As Lisbon and Victor argue about what he may or may not have known, Patrick spots Oscar hovering upstairs and moseys toward the tyke. Seems Oscar wants to talk. In his Zorro costume, this time.

Patrick and Oscar hang on the stairs. Oscar just wants his mom back. Patrick explains how he talks to his dead wife, and Oscar could probably talk to his dead mom if he wants to. They have an irrelevant yet heartwarming sword fight.

Cho and Rigsby are waiting as Patience is being plied with shiatsu, when Jackie stumbles upon them. Not that she notices Cho. Rigsby calls her Mrs. Shaper, which she thinks is silly. Not only because she wants him to call her Jackie, but besides that, she’s divorced. That would be “Ms.,” not “Mrs.” Ahem. Rigsby leans in toward her lips with a gleam in his eye – he wants to know what that shade of lipstick is called! Tongue in cheek, she says. Why? She just bought it today, after having seen it on Patience at Scarlett’s party…..

Suddenly, a screaming masseuse causes quite a ruckus nearby. Cho and Rigsby go running, only to find Patience’s massage went the unconventional route. More “ginzu” than shiatsu.  She’s been stabbed.

The team assembles at the new crime scene. Lisbon figures Victor was plenty angry about the whole drug dealing thing – so she wants to look into his alibi first. Patrick wonders if it’s someone wiping out the drug dealing competition or the heir apparent to the Chairwoman seat. Or…..well, the Victor angle isn’t a bad one, either. He skulks off to pursue his own theory, which probably has nothing to do with Victor.

Jackie and Heather are having drinks at the bar. Patrick joins them. Heather wants to know if it’s some kind of drug war. Patrick says stabbing is way more personal. He has a theory……but he’ll only share it with these two ladies if they promise not to spread gossip.

Of course they won’t.

He says the team is going after Victor for the crime. It seems likely he killed Patience for having murdered his wife. Even though there really wasn’t even proof that Patience did it. Whatever. Point being, Victor’s going down. Jackie wants to know what will happen to Oscar. Foster care, says Patrick. “That poor child,” Heather says. She lost a child. She oozes parental concern.

Cut to the Marquesa mansion, which is surrounded by a mob of media and curious onlookers. Gosh, somebody couldn’t keep a secret. Victor is led out of the house in handcuffs, as Oscar trails after him pitifully. Heather can’t take it. She breaks from the crowd and tells Patrick to stop putting the boy through this agony. She did it.

Victor nods to Oscar. Well done!

Cut to the hot seat. Heather’s in it. Lisbon and Patrick are on the other side of the table. Guess who supplied the drugs that Heather’s daughter took the night she died?

Only…..why kill Patience, too? Ah, but as Heather points out, Patience was following in Scarlett’s footsteps on all fronts. Including the pill pushing. So Heather just helped her along toward her own untimely demise. Just like Scarlett.

Lisbon takes the tape of Heather’s confession out to be transcribed, which she’ll bring back for Heather to sign. After Lisbon has gone, Patrick can’t help but ask – was vengeance worth it? Did it make her feel better? Heather says it didn’t erase the black festering feelings. He’s a bit dismayed to hear that.

Victor and Oscar stop by to say thanks to the team.

Jackie stops by to say thanks to Rigsby. Well, it’s more of a date, really. Rrrrrrahhhr! After a poisoning and a stabbing, a few cougar claw marks across Rigsby’s backside seem tame in comparison. Never mind that the case is closed. He’s still gonna take one for the team.

Grace, for one, does not appear appreciative.

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