The most recent episode of Bruno Heller’s The Mentalist, “Grey Water,” went full-bore after fracking, featuring flammable tap water, intimidated townspeople, and a recalcitrant manager of a fracking company who is arrested for bribing locals not to testify against the destructive results of the evil fracking industry. Matt Damon would be proud.
The episode, starring Simon Baker as the quirky American version of Sherlock Holmes, Patrick Jane, and guest-starring Sean O’Bryan as the manager of the tyrannical fracking company, follows Jane and company to a small-town fracking site, where a body has been found floating in an overflow pool. The investigation leads them to an environmental activist group, led by a computer hacker, who, while crossing the line legally, end up being innocent of the crime.
Although the fracking company is found to be innocent, we witness the tap water at the deceased man’s home light on fire, the locals bickering among themselves about what turns out to be bribe money, and the fracking site manager being handcuffed for his illegal payoffs to locals and businesses. Despite the fact that the murderer ends up being a local caught up in the heat of the moment, his motive—desperation for money—revolves around the fracking company manager’s illegal bribe stash. The episode also provides the fracking company a sympathetic owner, but undermines his good intentions by making clear that his business could not thrive without its underhanded dealings.
Energy has been a major theme in several popular TV series, perhaps most overtly and consistently in the new Dracula series on NBC, which pits semi-sympathetic anti-hero Dracula, who has devised a revolutionary energy source, against a group of equally bloodthirsty oil company owners. The show, created by Cole Haddon and starring Jonathan Rhys, is masterfully ambiguous in walking the line about who exactly is in the right, if anyone, in the end. However, Haddon makes clear from the beginning that the oil tycoons are to be hated, as they continually demonstrate their willingness to stoop even to murder to protect their interests.