Psych: “Last Night Gus”
B+

Psych: “Last Night Gus”

The Hangover came out in the summer of 2009. Psych has gone through two full seasons without making a reference to that movie, but apparently something about The Hangover Part II must have been the impetus for tonight’s episode, which put Shawn, Gus, Lassiter, and others in the now-familiar position of “What the hell happened last night?” It’s an interesting move to take a well-known R-rated movie and attempt to adapt it to cable television, but luckily Psych isn’t going for the same type of over-the-top debauchery. Instead, this episode wisely focuses on tweaking all the characters’ attitudes, showing the audience what each favorite member of the Psych cast would be like after a night of getting wasted, and throws in a little crime solving to boot.

Shawn and Gus wake up in their beachfront office after a night of heavy drinking, as these stories always begin. Shawn wears a shower cap and sandals that don’t belong to him, and they find Detective Lassiter spooning with Woody the Coroner, Lassie’s gun in the fish tank missing three bullets. Kurt Fuller is the unsung hero of Psych recently, and even though he’s only been in 10 episodes, he gets some of the best lines and delivers them perfectly. He’s got a very high line-to-laugh ratio, which is something the writers should look at when it comes to Shawn. In comparison to last week’s season premiere, James Roday had far fewer opportunities to revel in his powers and idiosyncrasies, which is probably why I liked this episode better than last week’s.

Mixing in a procedural plot to a Hangover themed episode sounds like a terrible idea on the surface, but Psych manages to keep things relatively light, going for more character moments. When Lassiter and Woody get called into the station to get this week’s case from Chief Vick, Lassie wears sunglasses to fight his hangover. Though there are probably one too many lines devoted to “What the hell happened to us last night?” what really makes this episode click are the interactions between Shawn, Lassiter, Woody, Gus, and after about half an hour, Henry as well.

The case isn’t all that special, but it doesn’t really need to be. A John Doe shows up shot three times, and initially, the guys think they may have committed foul play, but after finding Gus’ beat up car, a trip to Bobo’s Donut Shop, and finding Henry at a motel, things start to piece together in ways that twists the always-surefooted investigators into a place where they don’t know what they’re looking for, and it creates some nice comedic moments. As they start to solve the case, which involves the gang drinking with a private investigator and trying to figure out his cell phone pictures of a mystery blonde woman while in a stupor, all five of the new drinking buddies get moments to shine. Woody and Henry have some issues with powdered donuts, Shawn struggles with not having any memories, Lassiter can’t deal with a hangover, and Gus tries to be incredibly smooth with a certain lady.

Gus gets to play a procedural twist on the Ed Helms character from The Hangover, because when the guys go to the bar they drank at, he finds out that he hooked up with a pretty young woman. Instead of Heather Graham, in the Psych incarnation, Gus hooked up with someone at the bar who turns out to be the adopted daughter of the wanted criminal caught in one of the cell phone photographs. The connections happen quickly: She drugged all of the drinks in an attempt to get the original victim’s phone and get rid of the cell phone images that could reveal the whereabouts of her father. If there’s a big weak point to this episode, it’s that the actual criminal and twist to the whole night feels very shoehorned in at the last minute, even with the groundwork laid by having the girl show up when the guys go to the bar. It’s an unsatisfactory twist to bring in a guy wanted for crimes across the southwest who gets caught in a cell phone picture with a completely different hairstyle.

There’s a scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack describes the history behind his most recent breakup, where he delivers a speech to show that although it wasn’t a smoldering, hot and heavy, mind-blowing relationship from the start, it was really good, in a satisfying, above average way. That’s how Psych can be on its best days. It touches that above average, really good, satisfying hour of comedy with a little bit of mystery. Nobody is asking Psych to be cutting edge television. The regulars bounce off each other with such a vibrant energy that it seems like it. When it finds a way to take a well-worn trope and draw the best out of its ensemble, the show can really shine, and in spite of that third act twist, that’s what it did tonight.

Stray observations:

  • No lesson for Young Shawn tonight, which didn’t really change things. Although the point might have been to knock out his powers from the night before, he started recalling little snippets of information, the way anyone who blacks out drinking might do, which seemed suspicious.
  • No new nickname for Gus either, which was sad, since those always end up being really funny.
  • Anyone spot the pineapple? I’m always pretty terrible at locating it.
  • I didn’t like the moment back at the bar where the guys take far too long to realize the bartender is gay and end up making too many obvious terrible jokes about not getting that the guy has a “partner.” Too easy, and not funny enough.
  • I completely skipped over the Shawn/Juliet development tonight, mostly because it didn’t move very far forward. While blacked out, he called Juliet and asked her to move in with him. Shawn avoiding the subject of the conversation worked once, but it kept getting drawn out. And in typical Psych fashion, it ended up taking a tiny step toward getting more serious. They didn’t move in together, but knowing the conversation was on the table was enough.
  • Police questions that Psych will never address: If Lassiter discharges his police weapon, doesn’t he have to go through some kind of official process for firing bullets? How can he conceal this?
  • Nice detail: Henry tucks his shirt into his towel at the motel when he sees everyone else.
  • “You put some sunglasses on!”
  • “He’s like a Swedish version of Jon Cryer.”
  • “I spooned with him last night.”

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