This review contains spoilers.
6.3 This Episode Sucks
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Psych episodes tended to fall into three categories: those that are mystery-heavy, those that focus mainly on the guest-star-of-the-week, and those that explore a particularly outlandish scenario. This year’s Halloween episode – the puntastic This Episode Sucks – manages to be all three, and what a treat it is as a result.
Firstly, in these days of Twilight-fever, it was marvellous to see a vampire-themed episode with nary a tube of glitter in sight. As is usual with Psych, this episode was firmly rooted in its appreciation for all things 80s and 90s, and so we had callbacks to both Interview With The Vampire, Blackula, and (somewhat unexpectedly) Top Gun. In fact, probably the closest we came to an acknowledgement of the current trend towards pop culture bloodsuckers came with Gus’ run at True Blood.
It’s been a little while since we’ve seen Gus so enthusiastic about anything, but his childish glee at the realisation they might have been dealing with a vamp was a welcome opportunity for Dulé Hill to stretch his comedy wings. Coupled with his response to Shawn’s slap-based attempts at breaking him out of a catatonic state, it’s clear that (despite the episode being co-written by James Roday) there’s been a conscious effort to ensure that everyone gets their share of the laughs.
The mystery was probably the least well-represented of the three, but it was still relatively involving, despite a number of plot holes. Why the vampire-designed puncture wounds? Why drain a fully-grown man of blood, and only then go and raid a blood bank? Surely the other way around makes more criminal sense, if not narrative? Still, Psych has never been CSI, and as long as the episodes are funny and the mysteries at least superficially logical, it’s hard to complain too loudly.
Finally, the guest casting. The show has an excellent record when it comes to matching actors with episodes, but having Kristy Swanson – the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer – playing a character who may or may not be a creature of the night (let alone a murderer) is a stroke of genius. Better yet is just how seamlessly she meshed with the plot, completely failing to seem like a weekly gimmick that will never come up again.
The thought of Lassiter waiting around for six to 18 months was both ridiculously sweet and – somehow paradoxically – completely in character, which stands as a testament to the script that Roday and Harthan put out; in fact, it’s precisely that adherence to five years of character development that made it such a joy to watch.
In Marlowe, the writers seem to have found a perfect match for a character who has a painting of a semi-automatic shooting roses on a wall, and who lights a candle shaped like a pineapple grenade for a romantic first date (which, for those interested in that sort of thing, is this episode’s ananas du jour).
It’s not the first sign we’ve seen of Lassie’s soft centre, but after five years of disastrous relationships and stoic self-dependency, it’s nice to see him finally make a connection, especially in a way that ensures we get plenty the chance to see Timothy Omundson continue to grouch his way through the show. Thankfully, it’s expected that the two of them will return in an episode later this season, complete with Gus’s old musical group, the delightfully-named Blackapella.
Personally, I can’t wait. If this is the standard the new series is reaching for, roll on next week.
You can read our review of Psych season six episode two here.