James Roday has certainly earned the right to write and direct as many episodes of Psych as he wants because, in this reviewer’s opinion, Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster are hands down the best TV duo of the last decade. In his first foray behind the camera in Season 7, Roday tackles the late 90’s craze of The Blair Witch Project, our collective fascination as a country with Bigfoot and the film industry’s latest obsession with the so called “found footage” movies. Mix it all together and it is one delicious Pineapple Smoothie of an episode.
Normally I am not crazy when the guys leave Santa Barbara. It’s not just Pysch, it’s any show that I really dig. As a devoted Pysch -O, I want to see the beach, the SBPD, McNabb and the Pysch office in every show. So I am always a little “eh” on episodes that are not squarely in the wheelhouse of what makes the show hum.
Two film students are in the woods to try and get some footage of the famed Santa Barbara Bigfoot, who has been turning up with more and more frequency. For the record I thought the casting could have been better for the two college kids. The dude named Chavo is super annoying and while the girl Kate is a sexy free-wheeling sleep with anything that moves type, they are fish out of water with the pros from Pysch. They attempt to come off as a “friends with benefits” type duo but it is not close to believable. The banter between them feels forced and uninvited.
Shawn was trolling a Harry and the Henderson’s fan site and met Kate and discovered the adventure she and her film student cohort were going on. In order to get Gus to go, Shawn tells him that they are going to a secretive barbecue hut built inside a cave called “The Sassy Quatch.” Upon discovering the ruse, Gus assures Shawn that John Lithgow is never going to answer any of his fan mail.
Since the students have loads of beef jerky to entice the elusive Bigfoot or Sasquatch, Gus helps himself to their stash immediately as payback for Shawn’s lies. Jules and Lassie show up in the middle of the woods after a report of an abandoned blue Echo (The Blueberry) was called in. Reeling and scared at their situation, Gus lets Shawn know that black bears have no kinship with Black men. Gus’ hyper-obsessiveness is at its best when he is totally out of his element.
After a “sighting” of something that they cannot explain, Gus goes into boneless mode and falls into a pit with dead bodies on either side of him. For Gus this is the equivalent of putting a spider on an arachnaphobe’s bare leg. Lassie and Jules catch up just as Gus is flipping out, but the bodies are mysteriously removed from the hole.
At first they believe that the bodies were the Bigfoot’s pantry, being stored for later consumption, but they could not have been moved that quickly without transportation. Lassiter has had it and wants to leave the woods as he thinks this is all a waste of his time. And then he accidentally steps into a bear trap. Timothy Omundson as Lassiter has come leaps and bounds in his physical comedy since the inception of Pysch back in ’06. Lassie just cannot stop inadvertently hurting himself in the woods and is useless in the outdoors when not around guns, grenades or well, bigger guns. Jules takes charge as best she can, setting up camp and a campfire, devising a plan for the next day to get to safety.
Lassie takes a camera with him in a quest to return to civilization at the insistence of Kate the film student. The button upped cop’s Blair Witch style breakdown, while bleeding profusely from his bear trap injury is priceless. His monologue of goodbyes to his jailhouse love Marlowe, as well as his lesbian mother and her lover are hilarious. He promises he will not make any more inappropriate LPGA jokes at the next family event. Eventually he passes out and a massive figure picks him up and carries him away.
Is it Bigfoot? In the words of Ed Lover, “Come on son.” Back at the campfire, a laugh out loud riff on The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” is being harmonized and as you know from previous musical efforts, Shawn and Gus bring it when it comes to 80’s pop rock. Seeing Gus add a “burning” groove to the lyric in the chorus steals the entire episode. It is such a random song that they started singing that I was belly laughing as Shawn closes one ear to get the proper pitch and come in on the sing-along at the right time. “Wafers…” You Pysch die hard’s will get that reference.
Before passing out, Lassie dropped the camera he was confessing to and in the morning, the gang find it and watch the giant carry Carlton away. They fear the worst, Shawn gives a succinct eulogy and is ready to move on. Jules, on the other hand, does not believe that her hard as nails veteran partner is dead. Just then, Gus turns the Super-Sniffer on full power and hones in on a delicious smelling barbecue roast-like meat. Following his trusty gift of a nose, Gus leads them to a rotisserie of meat. It’s Lassie; and he is being barbecued.
Even Shawn, while filming says, “in lieu of everything we’ve been through with that man, Lassie smells delicious.” After I got done laughing the group finds a wooded cabin where Lassie is recuperating when the Bigfoot enters and turns out to be former Army Ranger Big Ed Dixon (WWE’s The Big Show). Turns out that it was Ed’s trap Lassie’s leg got caught in and he felt bad, therefore saving Carlton after he passed out. Ed moved into the woods a decade earlier after losing his wife and faith in humanity. The best line of the episode is when Shawn asks Gus to see his teeth. He has a piece of meat stuck in his teeth from what they suspected was roasted Lassiter. “You tasted the meat when we all thought it was Lassie!” Classic.
Ever the snooper, Shawn finds IDs from some missing Serbian hitmen in Ed’s bedroom. When they approach Ed to query why he has these items, he falls forward with an axe in his back. The Serbs have followed Ed back to his cabin where Lassie and Juliet are prepping the place for an assault. The Serbs come in heavy with machine gun fire, but naturally one of the perps infiltrates the compound before Big Ed body slams him down.
Oh and Lassie takes a bullet to the arm. Gus is trying to eat a plate of cookies as his last meal and does well hiding during the assault. Back at the station some time later, Shawn premieres the film taking credit as Foley Mixer, Sound Editor, Visual Effects; basically every job available on a film set has “Shawn Spencer” next to it. Naturally Woody the Coroner loves the film bringing popcorn and lets them know it was the best film he has seen since Love and Basketball.
As I mentioned in my intro I normally am not crazy about non-home based episodes of Psych, but Roday and company really made this one work. Roday also wrote the episode, proving that he is a multifaceted talent and for better or worse he will always be known as Shawn Spencer. That’s not such a bad thing.
Next Week: Jeffrey Tambor and Mexico!