Reaper 1:02 review

Ron catches up on the last week's worth of Tivo-ed TV shows - and gets us up to date on the last episode of Reaper

Here we are, back again with my slightly (or very) late review of the latest adventure of Hell’s own bounty hunter, who just so happens to be a 21-year-old slacker who still lives at home with his parents (no comments from the peanut gallery referencing me, please).  While the first episode was dedicated mostly to Sam discovering his new Satanic powers, this episode seemed more dedicated to the lesser-noticed aspects of Sam’s new duties, as he doesn’t use his new telekinesis even once in this episode.

One of the better aspects of the show so far (because I can make these calls after having watched all of two episodes) is the cold opening.  From the pilot’s Clerks-like introduction to this week’s uninvited guest in bed (not who you’re thinking, it’s actually the box containing this week’s weapon of demonic interest), they’ve been fun and interesting, and have really segued well into what the general theme of the episode is for the week.  This week, after almost opening the case, Sam decides to push it off for later, because he’s got to get to work.

Last week, we learned about the telekinesis, this week we’re learning more about the box and how, no matter what Sam might try to do to get rid of said box, that it will always find him so long as he tries to shirk his duty.  Leave the box in the woods while telling a story about a picnic?  It will find you.  Throw the box into the back of a semi truck going to Delaware?  It will end up getting delivered to your house.   

Even worse for Sam, not only is he having trouble with his night job, he’s also having trouble with his day job.  An errant toss of a bottle by Sock ends with a customer concussed, and that means Sock and Sam end up on night duty with their jerk of a boss, doing that most-dreaded of activities, inventory.  As anyone who has every worked for ANY sort of store can tell you, unless you work at a place with an open bar, inventory is absolutely terrible.   

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When you work at a big-box store, inventory is quite possibly the worst thing you could possibly imagine.  Fortunately for the gang, it gives them the chance to have a little fun with this week’s vessel:  a remote-control monster truck.  Three slackers alone in a department store in the middle of the night with a toy car?  If you can’t see how they’d build a large track to race their new toy over, you’re blind.   

That’s one of this show’s strong points.  The stars of our show do everything that we would do when left alone in that similar situation.  Quite frankly, they’re geeks like the rest of us.  They talk about movies and pop culture, they sneak out of work to drink (when I worked inventory at a previous job, we’d use our breaks to drink in the parking lot), and in lieu of being bounty hunters for Hell, they offer to set up Satanic websites.   

This week’s demon, as hinted at by the constant static electricity problem that Sam has, is a lightning-powered demon named Arthur Ferry, who spent his years in hell being electrocuted daily.  He was an energy trader who secretly sold the town’s energy to neighboring states at an inflated price, and because of his actions, lots of people died in the resulting brownouts and blackouts.  He controls the power of lightning and electricity, which is a very cool power indeed.   

There’s only one problem.  After an aborted attempt to capture Ferry that failed, he knows Sam and the gang are after him, and he’s not going to wait around for them to get him.  No sir, he’s going after them, and they’re all alone in that big store full of electricity-powered implements of death.  Cue up the Maximum Overdrive references!

No wonder I like this show so much.  The writers have gotten more mileage out of the setting of The Work Bench than I ever would have thought possible, from outfitting the boys for their showdown in electricity-resistant condom suits to the cute crushing relationship between Sam and Andi and their attempts to manipulate the system to be together while at work.  This episode is a perfect example of how to make the work setting work (and set up a cool homage to Big Steve King’s directorial masterwork).   

Judging by the amount of praise the show has gotten, and the amount of commercials squeezed in by the CW, this is a show that’s going to be around for awhile.  At the very least, it’ll get a full season to explore the potential of the setup, as it should.  It’s probably one of my favorite new shows of the year.  Kudos to the brain trust at the CW for being willing to take a chance on an unusual premise.

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When Ron Hogan worked at a big-box store in his 20s, he was never attacked by demons, chased by dogs, or flirted with by cute girls. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and the Flektor Development Blog.