"No Reaper Left Behind" S2 / E9
Just how dumb is Sam? He's been working for the Devil for a while now, and he's got enough self-confidence to get annoyed at the way the Lightbringer keeps mucking up his life; but for all that, he lacks a certain self-awareness of his own limitations. For the life of me, I can't decide if that's intentional on the part of the writers, or just sloppiness. Excluding Andi, Sam's probably the smartest of his circle of friends, but that's not exactly saying a whole lot. He just doesn't seem to realize that he's fighting against the Devil, and that means it's not going to be an easy battle. Sure, Ray Wise is charming and all, but this is a man who laid traps for trobadours who got killed before they reached Bombay. He's a mean mother, and he's not stupid.
So why does Sam keep treating him like he is? The plan with Alan last week was half-clever; get Alan to consecrated ground where the Devil can't touch him, and everything's fine. But it's a long way to Vatican City, and the assumption of Sam and the gang that the Devil wouldn't haven't any idea what they were up to seems hopelessly naive. Cool a moment as it was, it wasn't exactly a surprise when the Devil grounded Alan's plane in Vegas--nor is it a shock to hear in "No Reaper Left Behind" that the play worked, and Alan is back in Hell. Instead of seeming upset, though, the Devil is in his usual cheery mood, having decided it's time to move things along and start preparing Sam for his role as the official representative to all that is nasty down below. Which means a black turtleneck, slacks, and boots. (Sam hates 'em, but when he gets back home, all his clothes have been replaced; it's a solid gag that he spends the rest of the episode dressed, as Andi puts it, "like a seventies porn star.")
Looking on the bright side, the Devil is also giving Sam a temporary break from soul-hunting, so he can spend the time taking lessons on how to be a evil dude from Sally. Sally's a tutor who lives by herself in a very nice mansion that the Devil provided her with, mostly because he wants to get laid. Sam decides to take advantage of Sally by seducing her and getting more intel on ole Lucifer. That brings us back to the whole "how dumb" question, because while I'd buy that Sam could be self-deluded enough to think he could seduce anyone--most of us are dumb enough to think, should the opportunity arise, we could totally go full Valmont on somebody's ass--I'm having a hard time believing he's dumb enough to think he can seduce an actual servant of Satan. Confidence is a fine thing to have, but when preparing to go into battle against the Baddest of the Bad, a reality check is probably more important.
But then, given how the Devil acts in "Behind," maybe Sam might not be that overmatched after all. Again, I find myself struggling to find some sort of larger plan, this time one that would justify the extensive efforts Satan goes to in order to get a little something somethng--but while the whole Morgan thing could easily be big lie, there doesn't seem to be much depth here. Sam tries to worm his way into Sally's affections, can't do it because he's just too nice a guy, and the Devil ultimately uses him to get Sally into the sack. I liked that the ep largely ignored the SotW structure; sure, Sally is basically just a Soul in a different guise, especially since Sam does get a vessel by the end, but it was still close enough to a change of pace for me to dig it. It just didn't really go anywhere all that interesting. Of course Sam wasn't going to get any info--and he doesn't. Of course the seduction wouldn't work--and it didn't. Of course Ray Wise is going to get some--and he does.
The subplot of Nina's revenge played out as expected as well. In demon-guise, she does some property damage and threatens Ben (and, eventually, Sock), but after a while, she and Ben realize they miss each other too much to stay apart, and it all works out in the end. The dynamic was bizarre, because even though Nina's actions were irrational and violent, I found myself completely on her side. I'll be honest, it helps that she's hot. (Her attempt to seduce Sock were... appreciated.) But she also seems a lot smarter and more reasonable than anybody around her, and the two guys she targets were unlikeable in their responses. Ben's generally a nice guy, but he's too easily led, and I don't think I've ever found Sock as annoying as he was tonight. When Nina rips out his heart, I was actually a little disappointed to find out it wasn't all a dream. I'm glad it all worked out in the end (wonder if Sock burning down her lair will lead to Nina moving in with the boys?), but I spent way too much time annoyed at people I usually like. (Admittedly, the "ignore her!" bit in the car was funny.)
This one was generally average, sometimes dropping lower, but I give it points for more apperances of Ray Wise than the standard two-an-hour. The best part, though, was the reappearance of Sam's dad. He's getting frustrated with his current situation--stuck in the garage, can't date, attracting flies--and not even the Internet helps. (Stupid older generation.) The only thing left for him is to go back to Hell and try and help Sam get out of his contract. And that's what he does.
It's a strong, clever twist, and I'll admit it, I was a little bit moved at Sam's dad's exit scene. My only regret is that we should've have more of undead-Dad before he left; his relationship with Sam is frustratingly underdeveloped, and the risk he was willnig to take on his son's behalf could've meant even more than it did. As it is, it was a cool moment for a character I sometimes forget exists. But hey, at least Sam's got somebody in his corner on the whole getting-away-from-the-Devil thing. His last potential ally ditched him over a vegetable steamer (right after she grew Lady Deathstrike claws, so maybe that was for the best), and if Sam is serious about being free and clear, he's going to need a little more power than the usual gang of idiots.
- "I'm the Devil. I don't chase tail, Sam. Tail chases me."
- Andi on Sam's technique: "That's not really called seduction. It's called erosion." (What the hell was up with Andi being jealous? I can't decide if it was painfully out of character, or a good twist to see her acting kind of silly for once.)
- I wonder if we're ever actually going to see Hell?