Now that’s more like it.
My favorite formula for an episode of Psych is a healthy dose of witty banter with just a drop of melancholy. Tonight’s episode allows Shawn to make a comedic mistake of a decision that stunts his life progress, milks that bad choice for all possible laughs—including a few obvious ones, like moms doing laundry and walking in on parents having sex—and then through a reasonably well-constructed case leads Shawn to the correct choice of talking to Juliet about living together.
“Juliet Takes A Luvvah” is all about Shawn’s arrested development and how it affects his relationship with Juliet. (Hey, that’s the name of a different show!) With Henry returning home from the hospital, Shawn’s mother in town to help take care of Henry, and Shawn’s lease expiring, the stage is all set for Shawn to move back in with his parents. That would seem to set Shawn up to move in with Juliet. After all, they’ve been making slow progress for a while, but this is the first non-premiere/finale episode in a few years to advance Shawn and Juliet’s relationship.
But instead he chooses to move in with his dad and can’t tell that his choice disappoints Juliet—and it’s a nice joke that a guy who prides himself so much on reading everyone around him can’t see the obvious dejection on his girlfriend’s face. Coincidentally, the Santa Barbara police just happen to be working on a case that relieves Juliet of those thoughts while pressuring Shawn to realize his mistake.
Putting Juliet undercover as “Helene” on an online dating site to search for a serial killer puts some strain on her relationship with Shawn. He knows she’s good at what she does, but fears for her safety, and has more than a little concern when she starts getting excited about going on dates with other men. This method of investigation relegates Shawn to the surveillance truck with Lassiter, which leads to one great close call that puts the two of them in an intimately funny embrace as they stay hidden from Juliet and a suspect. As Juliet becomes more invested in attracting continued attention from her dates, and in securing a date with Mr. Possibilities, the too-good-to-be-true catalogue model, Shawn grows increasingly anxious about her wandering interest, and those thoughts lead to action once he's scarred for life back at his dad's house.
Shawn clearly still has leftover baggage from his childhood, as he slips so easily back into sitting between his parents and watching The Boy Who Could Fly. His mom is taking care of his laundry, packing him a lunch to take to the police station, and shopping for his clothes. Though Shawn recognizes the regression, it isn’t until he walks in on his divorced parents mid-coitus that he really gets that he can’t move back home.
The case takes the usual twists and turns, but there isn’t an obvious culprit, to the point where the final twist, with the catalogue model’s pictures in a fake profile built by the first guy Juliet went out with, seemed unexpected simply because there was never any evidentiary progress that would lead to him. I briefly worried that the guy assisting the police from the dating website would turn out to be the killer, but thankfully the episode didn’t take that rather difficult path to tie him into the case. Still the tinge of “Nice Guys of Ok Cupid” aggression to the killer strengthened the final reveal. He’s so wrapped up in perceived slights from other women that he snaps and becomes a murderer. And that anger, that complete reversal of the unassuming, boring, nice guy who talks about seahorses, makes Shawn look so much better by comparison, especially when he comes to his senses about his living situation.
The best part of the ending is that Juliet doesn’t need Shawn to take care of or save her. Psych has gone out of its way over the course of its run to prove just how self sufficient Juliet is, owning a house and taking care of herself in the field. Just like Shawn says toward the beginning of the episode, she’s a great actor when it comes to undercover work, and she uses that talent to gain the upper hand and subdue the real killer just as Shawn and the rest of the force arrive.
Which leads to another late-episode scene of romantic revelations for Shawn and Juliet, but this one feels earned with solid setup throughout the episode. Shawn gets a surprisingly tender speech about his home being wherever Juliet (and their eventual fleet of dogs) lives. Sure, there’s still the one big lie hanging over their relationship (though it does always seem like everyone knows and just plays along), but for once I’m not tentative in praising how this next logical step came about.
Even Gus makes progress on the romantic front. He has success with online dating, much to Shawn’s chagrin, meeting Rachel, a charming woman with a great accent and great chemistry with Dulé Hill. Of course Shawn suspects her of something, building to the red-herring diversion at the miniature golf course. It’s a very funny scene, with physical humor and some reliably delightful “Shawn gets it wrong” humor. And that whole misdirection shields the actual final revelation that Rachel has a kid. After being so unlucky in love for so long, it’s about time Gus made a real connection, but now he has to figure out whether he can get past Rachel’s omission and bond with her son.
- I’m a dog person, but I draw the line at poor excuses for ottomans like Pugs. For proof, we go to Ron Swanson: “Any dog under 50 pounds is a cat, and cats are pointless.”
- “You made out with a serial killer.” “You made out with Lassiter.”
- “Oh well, by all means, let’s scour the internet, a place where everyone knows it’s just decent, normal, sane people looking for true love.”
- “You look like you’re late for a Whitesnake video shoot.”
- This episode is full of great dialogue, especially the extended dig/not dig/dig against The Mentalist.
- Totally unnecessary dig at Don’t Trust the B In Apt. 23, a wonderfully funny show with a great cast ending too soon.