Image from 'Black Helicopters" episode of "The Mentalist"
Image from ‘Black Helicopters” episode of “The Mentalist”

Sunday night’s episode of the CBS-TV crime drama The Mentalist had a couple of interesting angles to it. I started watching the show during the last year, and it’s usually entertaining and politically inoffensive. This episode began with what appeared to be standard-issue Hollywood caricature and villainization of the political and cultural right.

A lawyer has been murdered at a place called “Gadsden Grove,” which  calls itself a Citizens’ Farm and is populated by a bunch of separatist types “lookin’ for freedom” and “tryin’ to get away from government control,” etc. etc., as the characters state. (Clearly they are intended to represent Tea Party types, although separatists are in fact a different group altogether, as the Tea Party is overwhelmingly middle- and working-class.)

The Citizens’ Farm residents also give forth with talk of black helicopters and the like, and the episode starts with the good folks at the Grove meeting the FBI with guns drawn when the latter show up, heavily armed in full police-on-war-footing contemporary style, at their gates and demand entrance. (The story then plays out as a flashback.)

It looks like a set-up for an hour of Tea Party bashing, but then … the Mentalist himself, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), concludes (correctly) that the Citizens’ Farm residents are basically good people, and this lack of prejudice, enables him to discover that the killer was in fact a left-wing eco-terrorist  who has been running from the law for decades under a new identity and came to the farm as a convenient place to hide out. I was floored!