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Mental -- "Book of Judges"

2ShotDrGandAnnabella.jpgDavid Carradine guest stars on this week's episode of Mental, just days after the 72-year-old actor and "Kung-Fu"/"Kill Bill" icon was found dead in a Thai hotel room. Authorities won't know for a few weeks if his death was accidental or a suicide (let's just say that the circumstances in which he was found leave room for doubt). We don't know about you, but his character's catatonic state kept making us think of the actor's real death, which was a bit distracting from the plot.

Also distracting? Jack's repeated nekkid-ness, his lack of respect for personal space when it comes to conversations with women (would we be upset or flattered? Hmm...), the thought of being struck by lightening, and Carl's eeeeevil machinations. More after the jump.

There are two patients under the microscope this week -- but let's face it, there's only one we really care about:

Gideon Graham (David Carradine) is suffering from refactory catatonia -- he's almost completely unresponsive. Veronica wants to try trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat it. Jack calls Gideon a national icon (and kung fu master! -- there goes that distraction again), noting he has read and reread everything the man's ever published.

Gideon's daughter, Niobe -- a supermodel with  an anthropology degree from Oxford (don't they all?) -- observes the procedure. Caine Gideon has a seizure when they up the strength, and flashes during contact show Gideon in a lightning storm, where his wife Sansa holds out her hand to him.

Gideon's lost inside himself due to overwhelming grief over Sansa's death. They were hiking and when the storm came in, and instead of seeking shelter, he insisted -- even though he knew she was afraid of lightning -- that they stand on the edge of a cliff to watch. They both got hit by the lightening but only he survived. Oh, and cuckoo-viewTM was brought to us this week sans funhouse mirror camera work -- yay!

Jack's theory is that the TMS made him relive the lightening strike because it's so similar. He thinks Gideon's hiding (faking in other words), which is why he's not responding to treatment.

Gideon's latest manuscript is titled "The Book of Judges" -- it's about responsibility and choosing your own fate (which again makes us think of Thai hotel rooms...), and Jack believes Gideon was using the book to judge himself. Jack wants to try the TMS again, while also taking away all the personal effects, memories and comforting objects they've been surrounding him with, which enable Gideon's withdrawal behind the wall he's built against reality.

Jack sets up the TMS, but talks to Gideon, yelling, "who are you to judge?!" and calling him a coward. He reminds Gideon that his wife is just an illusion in his inner world, but his daughter's still here in reality. (You know, as real as a supermodel/anthropologist is.) He pretends to use the TMS and Gideon, crying, looks at Jack and puts his hand on Jack's throat. Voila, catatonia reversed. Pretty good job by Carradine, even though his character barely utters a word. But, that may be us judging through the lens of nostalgia over an actor's life ended. 

Where were we? Oh, right, can't forget about eeeeevil Carl. He reminds Arturo that he wa's on the committee to approve his residency (and voted in his favor) but he knows that Arturo falsified part of his application. He uses this threat to push Arturo to get close to Jack, gain his confidence, and report back to him. Aren't they making Carl just a little too two-dimensionally evil? 

There is a handy side effect to all of this though -- we get to find out more about Becky's story. Arturo brings the dirt on Rebecca Gallagher back to Carl  -- she's Jack's fraternal twin and has been in and out of institutions since their 20th birthday. She's a paranoid schizophrenic and has had several drug-related arrests. Carl says it's worthless info, but we see him noting it all down in what is apparently a file on Jack's transgressions.

At the end of the episode, Jack hears his doorbell and, who should be on the other side but Niobe, ready to smooch. Go Jack.

Random thoughts:
  • Yes, there was another patient. Darren Knuth was brought in after he beat the crap out of two high school football players, then rammed his car into a brick wall four times while sobbing. Arturo suspects intermittent explosive disorder (isn't that something you'd treat with Pepto?) due to a lifetime of physical abuse from his father. When Arturo mentions talking to said father, Darren turns docile, willing to try new meds and relaxation exercises. Do we care? Not really. Neither does the show -- he's barely mentioned again.
  • More Wacky Jack moves: Thom Hygard, a slimy pharmaceutical rep for sleep-aid Somnilex, and therefore BFFs with Carl, invites Jack to corporate retreat in Laguna. Jack asks if Carl's mentioned their new aggression therapy technique... fast-acting... a real problem-solver... and pushes him into the stairwell while Veronica and Arturo surreptitiously look on. Heh.
  • Jack tries the TMS on himself, and reports other than an uncomfortable tapping sensation at the contact points, it's a nice buzz. Jack then breaks into the Somnilex room with Victoria to steal samples of the drug (Jack signs for it under Carl's name) so they can test how asleep Gideon is.
  • From a blogger's perspective, thanks for the photo and chart for each patient that spells out their name and condition(s) -- it's way handy.
  • Jack's response about the term "insane": "I hate that word, I have no idea what it means." On the one hand, it's decent line and goes with his character. On the other, it sounds a little too...cliché?
  • What's with the personal space thing? Is that part of Jack's persona and it was just emphasized due to the attraction Niobe and he felt for each other? It was little hard to tell the difference actually. It's really more apparent when he's around any woman -- and he's also very touchy in a "I'm comforting you" kind of way -- but maybe we'll just chalk it up to a character trait.
Yes, the show's growing on us -- and yes, that's in part thanks to nekkid Jack. What about you? Will you stick with Mental? Tell us why (or why not) in the comments! 


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Anyone knows the name of the actress playing niobe?

Hi, Vulcan. She was played by Estella Warren, who has been in Low & Order, That 70s Show and the Planet of the Apes remake. Fun fact: She started out as a world-class synchronized swimmer. Who knew?

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