This review contains spoilers.
6.2 Last Night Gus
Of all the rumours about the episodes we might be expecting in season six – vampires, Cluedo, William Shatner, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, the third part of a Desperaux trilogy – perhaps the most eagerly-received snippet came in the form of an interview in which it was revealed that there would be a ‘Psych-over’ episode coming in the near future. With all that fan-based goodwill behind it, does Last Night Gus disappoint?
Like it or not, The Hangover pretty much carved its own little niche in the world of 21st century comedy films, but with multiple parodies floating around (and a sequel that, by common consensus, wasn’t really worth the time and effort involved) it was always going to be hard to pull off yet another take on it that didn’t seem needlessly derivative. The good news is that, in that sense at least, Last Night Gus does a perfectly good job – mostly by barely recognising the source material at all.
There are no overt nods to The Hangover here, despite the premise and the show’s tendency for blatant homage and subtle winks at tropes past, and it’s better for it. Even the episode’s big action setpiece – a five-man leap from a motel balcony into a swimming pool to avoid an explosion – was instead a gleeful throwback to that brand of 80s action movie that everybody secretly (or not-so-secretly) holds a great deal of affection for.
Instead, we’re whisked straight into a mystery of our own. Why were Lassie and Woody spooning? Where did Shawn’s mystery bling come from? What’s that white stuff around Woody’s mouth, what did Shawn say to Jules, and – perhaps most mystifyingly – who the hell is Ed Lover?
Unfortunately, the episode’s one misstep is in making these mysteries far more involving than the whole ghastly business of murder, so as things start to clear up a little, Last Night Gus manages to lose a lot of the impetus it had built up over the previous half-hour or so. By the time we get to the man-with-a-gun denouement, it’s all too easy to wish we were still at the opening credits (even ignoring the somewhat forced Leroy Jenkins reference). Sometimes, alas, it’s not better to know.
It’s the little details, as ever, that really make the show, and there’s no shortage of treats from way out of left field for the keen viewer. The Reservoir Dogs pastiche and the borderline-OCD sense of companionship with his gun that allows Lassie to immediately tell it’s missing three bullets are good for a few laughs, but it’s really Kurt Fuller as Woody the coroner who steals the episode. Even a move as simply as answering his phone with a cheery but completely deadpan “Guten tag” lets him show off a comic timing that, for anyone who last saw him flexing his laugh-muscles in the lacklustre ABC sitcom Better With You, must seem like kind of a shock.
Better yet, a swift sidestep in the second half of the episode that pretty much removed him from the main storyline ensured that he didn’t outstay his welcome, even in an episode that really allowed him to shine; as a character who works well in small doses, his treatment by the writers really can’t be faulted.
If Woody took the blue ribbon this week, Gus got a close second, even if it was disheartening to see him ultimately blow it (yet again) with the ladies after his spectacularly self-assured pimp walk out of Chief Vick’s office. Last Night Gus might not have had as much game as he thought, but Today Gus – the one we saw tripping balls on salvia in the middle of a gunfight – was endearingly stoned enough that it almost made up for it, and the sight of him contentedly smashing up his own apartment was a joy to behold.
Perhaps it’s partially down to the fact that James Roday and Maggie Lawson have been dating since the show’s first season way back in 2006, but there’s a magnificent chemistry between the two of them that has really been allowed to shine since the writers conceded the inevitable and paired them off last year. The whole issue of what Shawn actually said while on his accidental salvia trip loomed large over events this week, but it was neatly wrapped up in a way that didn’t feel false.
Of course Shawn would ask Jules to move in the minute his guard was down, but by a similar token, of course he’d kick back into his comfort zone as soon as Last Night Shawn was safely packed away. If being able to smile both because and in spite of your partner’s idiosyncrasies is the hallmark of a real relationship, the writers have hit the nail right on the head.
From this episode’s Pineapple of the Week (embossed on the glasses in Gus’s apartment) through to the gentle relationship development and the quirky mystery, Last Night Gus was a solid piece of Psych history that covered all its bases, albeit perhaps not quite as well as might have been hoped. Still, with next week’s Halloween-themed vamp-fest coming up, it’s hard to stay even slightly disappointed for too long.
You can read our review of Psych season six episode one here.