Open Letter to Ken Woodruff
[Trigger Warning: rape, bad police officers, torture]
[Spoiler Warning: uh, season 2, episode 14 of The Mentalist]
I hope you appreciate feedback. This open letter concerns an episode, Blood In, Blood Out of the hit show The Mentalist, an episode which you wrote. More specifically it concerns the ending of it, which I felt was handled very very poorly. I know it is an old episode, and I hope that your writing has grown since.
When you (general you) do writing, you generally write about what’s important to you, and ignore what is not important. I think there was a scene in your episode where you (specific you) overlooked something very important, and I am going to explain why. Do excuse all this build-up before I get to my actual point. It is here so that you (or other readers of this letter) do not misconstrue my critique.
It was a well-told story; you explored a new side of Kimball Cho [an agent of law]; you tied everything together nicely at the end; there were some cool scenes with guns in them.
Usually in the Mentalist, characters do questionable things. They are wild, uncontrollable, but they, ah, close cases. The questionable things are often called out by other characters,
What I want to talk about is the wrap-up. I vehemently disapprove of the wrap-up.
Not being an expert in law or anything, I don’t know how many laws the characters broke. But Kimball Cho tortured Mr. Reed [rapist coke addict scumbag], faked Mr. Reed’s death, assaulted Frank [murderer, some sort of crook, an inside man in Mr. Reed’s employ], pointed a gun at Frank, and threatened to kill Frank, to get a confession out of him. This is all standard cop-show bullshit that is pointless to pick on. It is however needed for the context of the incident which raised my ire: the scene in Teresa Lisbon’s office.
Mr. Reed is of course suing Kimball Cho for the battery. They have testimony from a woman, Crystal, who Mr. Reed has assaulted and raped. Lisbon says, “[the felonies with which Mr. Reed is charged] include narcotics, trafficking, extortion, sexual harrassment…” and this leads to a discussion on ‘mending fences’ with Mr. Reed. This gambit means that Teresa Lisbon is saving her agent’s ass by dropping the charges against this wealthy man.
This woman was not consulted about this. There is a line about the DA, but that is it. Crystal did not seem to want to bring those charges up in the first place but the agents of the fucking law pressured her, and then they gamble it away to save Kimball’s career. Do you see the problem here? It is possible you do not. I will attempt to explain it as concisely and clearly as I can.
I think you overlooked the fact that what happened to her is a thing that actually happens to people, and it is tragic, and it is important to note this.
Put yourself in Crystal’s shoes. You gave this character hope of redemption, maybe of seeing the law actually work like it’s supposed to. And then she is dismissed, treated as a card to trade, and presumably told she never had a chance at bringing this man to justice after all.
I think Lisbon’s decision should have been given more weight, rather than just being a trump card. Had I written it, it would have had more consequences.
There are far too many issues to adequately address in a letter. I do not want to do a complete breakdown of the episode along with links to feminism 101, and putting the episode in the context of the show so far (all of which would be necessary for adequate addressal of the issues). I just hope I could teach you something about this and maybe make you think twice about what views you want to represent in the future. Or something.
This is of course just my take on it, and it is slanted by my experiences and impressions. I do not have the vocabulary to express all that I feel, and I fear going into the post-modern would occlude more than it would illuminate. Hopefully I have expressed myself well enough.