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Monday, 25 of March of 2019

Psych – “Deez Nups”

“I’m sober now.”

Yeah. They're stunned, too.

Yeah. They’re stunned, too.

Really?

There’s a certain allowance you have to give a show after it’s been on for so many seasons. By around season 5, characters, particularly comedic ones, have become such parodies of their original casting that the only thing recognizable about them is the actor’s name flashing across the screen (and sometimes even that’s not the case, Second Becky).

It’s no one’s fault. Or at least it wouldn’t be fair to blame any one person. People get into a groove, things become second nature, you push the boundaries of the character a little bit, or what they can or would do, and, suddenly, you have catch phrase like “EAGLE” or you’ve gone from simpleton accountant to functionally retarded. As shows exhaust resources and things turn over or actors get bored and start to expand thing, the show turns into something — different.

Psych has done well to keep its basic premise and feel in tact for seven seasons though with a dulled sharpness. The writers try to make things interesting by somehow finding new territory for them to traverse each week (Santa Barbara has to have had more murders the Cabot Cove by now) and the characters find new ways to express themselves. But every once in a while you’ll get an episode that’s such a mess that it reminds you how old the show is.

And they use that episode to break the biggest arc in the series.

I know. You know. That I’m not telling the truth. It’s a refrain that hasn’t necessarily applied to the theme of series since the beginning. After Lassie chilled out on the “exposing” rhetoric, we’re left to assume that the rest of the department is rolling with the “Shawn must be definitely be psychic” theory, enough to not even question the source and consistency of his supernatural powers.

It’s been going on so long, in fact, that I’d just assumed that everyone already knew the truth about Shawn’s visions and were just going along with it so they could solve cases. He and Gus are a machine in that regard. Why mess with a good thing? I imagined Shawn’s coming out party to be everyone in the department giving us a Gus-patented, “Tsh, I know.” And then they’d move on. Shawn might have a season or so left to basically be the jovial Sherlock Holmes.

So imagine my surprise when I saw what happened at the end of this disastrous episode.

And it was a disaster, too, from start to finish. Everything from (more or less) sloppy dialogue to a weak mob-centered plot (the wedding stuff was fine) to bizarre directing choices Psych renaissance man James Roday. It had its moments (the gentlemen on the escalator for instance) but, overall, just a mess. A real piece of work.

The season itself hasn’t exactly been stellar. A lot of rote scenarios supported by an established bromance jokes (though I did like “Juliet Takes a Luvvah”) populate these episodes for a mostly disappointed feeling after every hour. Even Jeffrey Tambor couldn’t entirely save his episode, though, at the same time, I would love to see a web series where his character and Henry go fishing.

But even in a season like this the episode seemed so slapdash. Call me a snob but I’ve never been turned on by mob-centered plots. The stories are too easy and the people that populate the mob are usually one-dimensional archetypes. Nothing changed in that regard for the mobsters here, who were all basically formulaic ninnies operating as a mere speedbump to the rest of the episode. This was supposed to be Lassie’s wedding episode from the start and these clowns were only around for the punchline: a mob hit taking place at a cop’s wedding. The criminals were already surrounded by police. There needed to be a way to jam a gunfight into Lassie’s wedding and they found it.

I’m not saying I need deep characterization for Psych baddies but it seemed like they were aiming for so much to tug at you emotionally throughout the episode but very little actually worked. Marlowe getting kidnapped and going missing did nothing. Lassiter not having a best man was a case of invented stakes since I’d assumed Juliet would end up in that role or Shawn by default. Only Woodie did anything for me as far as laughs go.

But then there was the final scene with Juliet which was the biggest mess of them all. And maybe it was supposed to be. Maybe the conversation was supposed to show that Shawn was never going to be found out by some grand inquisition or some clever hoodwinkery. It was always going to be a hint of evidence against him and Shawn collapsing under the heretofore unseen burden of the great lie. But, without that rationalization, the scene fell flat.

What evidence does Juliet have? That he could’ve known the layout of the hotel and that he knew the accountant would be at the Michael Damien show? That was enough to unravel years of subterfuge? Why couldn’t Shawn say, “Yeah, I’ve been a little blocked lately” or “What a coincidence let’s go get more cake” or “I guess so. That’s weird.” He’s shrugged off more condemning evidence than this. And, yet, he decides this is the moment to spill. It just seems like so little for him to feel cornered enough to unravel his entire life.

Maybe he doesn’t want to lie to her anymore. He and Henry did just have a talk about breaking the cycle of making things too complicated. But does being there for Juliet mean rocking her entire idea of you? And to do it like that, in a public space, at a wedding? It just seems like a silly way to bring up the most important plot point of the entire series. “You seem to have a scratch on your car.” “Yeah, I killed a pedestrian and burned his body so no one would find him ha ha ha.”

Just as upsetting to Shawn’s admission, however, is Juliet’s reaction. Like I said, by now I’d just assumed everyone knew his “secret” and let him continue to pretend to be psychic for the sake of Lassiter’s ego. But it seems like Juliet really whole-heartedly believed that Shawn had supernatural powers and that they defined who he is. As an audience member, I had a hard time understanding her feelings since Shawn doesn’t really portray himself as a psychic unless necessary for a case. His ability is an aspect to his character and not something that defines him. Yet Juliet treats it like this aspect of him is the entirety of his being and she doesn’t know who he is if he’s not a psychic.

I know that it might just be that Juliet is dealing with being lied to for so many years and feeling a fool for believing the hype machine that is Shawn’s confidence. My point is that, because of such a slapdash episode combined with weak plotting for one of the biggest moments Psych will ever have, the scene as it occurred was robbed of its power. It takes a lot for the show to sell Shawn’s pouty-lipped moments as it is. Why handicap yourself by putting it in such a weak episode?

Other things:

  • Look at Woodie playing the field. Last week with the parole office and this week with a parolee. Get down with your bad self.
  • The whole Stumpy storyline seemed like a waste, a red herring for I don’t know what. He needed to be more — something. Just more.
  • I did enjoy that there was an episode where Chief Vick got to let her hair down a little bit and have more than just a suspicious look for Spencer in her office.
  • There are a lot of blonde people on this show.
  • What’s up with all the transgender hate?

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