It took a few weeks to get going on these recaps, but for 3 weeks now, everyone's favourite fake psychic has been back! Psych began its fifth season on USA on July 14th with a super-sized episode featuring Chinese gangs, forbidden love, Shawn's dad now working at the police station, Juliet not working at the police station, and a whole lot of kung-fu! It was not only one of the most action-packed episodes in the show's history, it also did a good job of setting up the overarching plot threads for the new season, including the tension between Shawn and Henry ramping up (with Henry now in charge of the consultants -- meaning Shawn & Gus -- at the SFPD) and the whole Shawn/Juliet dynamic (if you're looking for some hints at where that will be headed, read my interview with Psych creator Steve Franks from a few months back, which includes some season five scoop).
I feel that, especially with the changes to the show's set-up and bringing Juliet back into the fold, it's taken a few episodes to get back into the "flow" of the show. Last week's episode -- featuring a well-known guest star (Freddie Prinze Jr.), a "theme" topic the show hasn't yet covered (alien abduction), and of course more head-butting between Shawn and Henry AND Shawn and Lassiter -- showed they were finding their Season 5 footing. But after this week, things definitely feel right at home, even with all the changes that have taken place.
First of all, how about the guest stars for this episode? Jean Smart and John Michael Higgins have both proven themselves to be extremely capable comedic actors. Higgins was sly and smooth as Clive Prescott, master of charm and seduction -- then again, the guy could read the phone book and I'd probably crack up. Smart, whose funniest role to date is still probably as Mark's mom in Garden State, does some more cradle robbing here, dating a young man (one of Prescott's students!) shortly after her affluent husband had committed suicide -- an incident Lassiter thinks might have been murder.
When boy toy ended up poisoned to death (and then dramatically falling 20 feet off a balcony, naturally), Shawn and Lassiter went head to head once again this season after Henry "recommended" to the Chief that Shawn & Gus work the case at the same time as Lassie & Juliet. While it's something we've already seen played out in a couple different ways so far this season, given the way Season 4 ended (with Shawn getting more and more erratic in his detective work), it makes sense that this back-and-forth will continue for some time.
Shawn's lead suspect for a good chunk of the episode was Prescott (for a variety of reasons, including jealousy and trying to fleece older ladies out of their money), while Lassiter was certain it was the wealthy widow, Gillian Tucker. Both Higgins and Smart has some killer lines in this one. Prescott handing Shawn & Gus a wax-sealed "thank you" letter after their questioning of him was hilarious, and became a great running gag throughout the episode, especially when Shawn gave Prescott a "sorry" note for accusing him of murder... and misspelled his own name. Gillian, meanwhile, was just so vivacious and full of life that every scene Jean Smart was in was a delight.
The double date between Shawn/Gus and the 2 older ladies was great comedy. Gus asking Eugenia her age was the highlight, but seeing Prescott "rattle Shawn's cage" was also pretty great -- while he's obviously smarter and more mature than he lets on, Shawn's getting to the age where seeing a bit less of his childish ways wouldn't be a bad thing for the show. Of course, switching the date's location to the Psych offices for some pizza seemed to do the trick for Ms Tucker, so maybe I'm just not old or female enough.
Eugenia shutting down Gus in every way throughout their date was just wonderful. Obviously as the episode went on, we became privy to why she wasn't buying any of what Gus was selling, but either way, it was just funny to see him care more and more about impressing her as she continued to block all his advances.
I found it interesting that "super detective" Henry was so off on this one. Maybe being in the office has him a bit off his game compared to helping Shawn with cases from the comfort of his own home? He and Shawn were both on the wrong track on this one, and though Prescott was indeed jealous of Gillian's suitors, he wasn't a crazed murderer -- he was just in love with her. (He did get the girl in the end, though. Go Clive!)
Then again, nobody figured out it was Eugenia who killed Gillian's husband and was trying to off all her potential suitors until one of those suitors (who was a suspect himself at one point) showed up dead, too. Man, there were a lot of suspects in this one!
All in all, as I said, it was a fun episode that had all of what I (and I assume we) love about the show. The guest stars were all great (including Lee Garlington as Eugenia), the mystery indeed had us guessing for a good chunk of the episode (even if, in hindsight, it does seem pretty obvious -- I mean, what straight female could possibly resist Dulé Hill's charm?), and the overarching storyline with Shawn and Henry moved along. The only thing really missing was a good Shawn and Juliet moment, something we still really haven't had yet this season. We haven't really seen a lot from Juliet at all this season, actually.
Prescott: "When was your last successful relationship?"
Shawn: "Define relationship."
Prescott: "The way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected; or the state of being connected. Webster."
Shawn: "I hardly think Emmanuel Lewis is an authority on relationships."
Gus: "She rejected me! I mean, what is that? She smelled like mothballs?"
Shawn: "Sometimes you smell like styrofoam. I dig it."
Shawn: "Will you admit to trying to murder me last night by poisoning my person?!"
Prescott: "I certainly will not. And my understanding is that you were barely poisoned."
Shawn: "Why do people keep qualifying that?"
Gus (running up the hill, out of breath): "Shouldn't a case with an older woman killing people be less athletic?!"
Shawn: "Hang in there, buddy. Think about the cucumber finger sandwiches waitin' for us up top!"
Shawn (speaking to Prescott's class): "The way I think is the right way to do things is not the only way."
Prescott: "It's barely a 'way' at all."
Shawn: "Well, it's my way."
Prescott: "It's not a real way."
Shawn: "It's the way I approach something; it qualifies as a 'way'."
Prescott: "Well it's not a very good way."
Paul Little is the founder and Managing Editor of ShowbizMonkeys.com. When not interviewing his favourite musicians and comedians, he can also be found at The Purple Room in Winnipeg, where he is Artistic Director. (@comedygeek)