Reaper: "My Brother's Reaper"
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Reaper: "My Brother's Reaper"

What does it take to be evil? More importantly--how easy is it for a good person to fall? It's becoming more and more obvious that the Devil isn't just using Sam to catch escaped souls; there's deeper work at play here, machinations within machinations, because for all his apparent cheerfulness, this is the Baddest of the Bad we're talking about. He's got more important things to do than annoy some twenty-something. In "My Brother's Reaper," we get as close as we've come yet to a confirmation that Sam's soul is being put in jeopardy. The script had some surprises, the pacing was tight (or at least as tight as this series ever gets), and, despite Sam and Andi's comments at the end that everything seemed to be "back to normal," the plot actually moved forward a bit. All in all, this was an excellent reminder of what Reaper does best.

After her lair was burned down last episode, Nina's decided to move in with Ben and the boys. It's an easy to see coming twist, and one that could've gone badly; fortunately, Nina's presence in the house isn't the issue here. It's Morgan. Sam takes pity on the poor dope and offers him a place to crash while he gets his head together. Once again, Sam's basic good nature puts him in a tough spot, as Morgan commences to eat all the cereal, erase every recorded episode of One Life To Live off the DVR, and put the moves on an apparently infatuated Nina. See, Nina's still got that whole "evil is sexy" thing going on--she admits to kissing Sam because she thought he was a bad boy, and now, to all appearances, she seems to be zeroing in on Captain Asshole. Morgan has to go; but does Sam have the stones to throw him out?

It's not like he doesn't have other problems. No vessel this week--instead of an escaped dead guy, the Devil wants Sam to get a douchebag named Gary Martin to sign over his immortal soul. Seems that the Devil gave him all sorts of neat things in exchange for the soul (including a polar bear named Barry Manilow), but only bothered to get a verbal contract. That sort of thing won't hold up, so it's up to Sam to get the creep's John Hancock and seal the deal. But it's odd that the Devil would be so casual in his tempting, isn't it. Seems a little weak.

Maybe it isn't. Tony shows up again (baby Stevie is pretty darn cute), and during a brief night on the town, forces Sam to realize that in getting Gary to sign himself over, he would be putting his own soul in grievous danger. During their next confab (at a Tupperware Party-like meeting for free botulism injections) Sam tells the Devil that he's not going to help, and the Devil says that's cool, he'll just put a hit out on Gary, catch him while he's still sinning. So now, Sam, being the decent guy that he is, has to actively try and save Gary from damnation. That's going to be tricky, since Gary hasn't really thought through the whole "death bed repenting" scam.

There may be an answer, though, from very unlikely source. After seeing that Steve had found his way to Heaven, Tony and the rest of the rebelling demons from season one have formed a new group, dedicated to following the Path of Steve to redemption. That Path gives Gary surprisingly precise directions on how to redeem himself (directions given by the man himself, interrupting one of the many awful karoake videos Tony has playing during meetings), and it also brings us back to the Morgan problem. Seems that Nina was actually pretending to be turned on by Morgan--the whole thing was a trick to get him over to Tony's apartment. When Morgan sees Sam already there, he pulls a gun, thinking he's found a way out of his problems; and that's when nearly every demon in the room turns monster and tears the guy apart.

Gotta admit, I did not see that coming. With a show this low key, its easy to forget that there are still stakes, and that people (human or otherwise) still have agendas. Morgan's a great character, but if having him gutted on the living room carpet had to happen to get things exciting again, I'm all for it; besides, as the Devil so eloquently puts it, he can still escape from Hell. Gary sees the error of his ways, Nina explains the whole thing to Ben (it's her job to kill Satan's kids), and according to Steve, Sam has some kind of special destiny ahead of him. For once, we have an episode that's as much about plot as it was about the guys hanging around goofing off, and it makes for a nice change.

That's not to say that the hanging out wasn't fun. From the opening conversation (I don't care if it's gay or not, I wouldn't bang a clone of myself. I have some standards) the dialogue was good, and I even moderately enjoyed the Work Bench plotline: Sock decides to throw a bachelor party for Ted's on-again/off-again engagement. He talks Andi into letting them hold the party at the Bench, and everything seems to be going well (although, clown strippers? Really?), when a couple of representatives from the home office show up. Ted ratted Andi out, and now she's been dropped back down to working the floor--which, all things considered, she seems pretty happy about.

This one gave me the warm fuzzies, no foolin'. The hilarity of the Path of Steve, the creepiness of the demons falling on Morgan, and the Devil's barely concealed threats in his final conversation with Sam, all worked well together. Okay, sure, the clown thing, that was just wrong. There's nothing sexy about clowns. But apart from that, good stuff. We've moved away from the same old Soul of the Week shennigans, and Sam is getting forced to be more proactive about fighting back. This is exactly the direction that Reaper needs.

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:

  • Hey, is the lawn out back of Sam, Sock, and Ben's house Astroturf? It's definitely fake.
  • I hope Sam's dad's doing okay.
  • "Morgan is being tortured in Hell right now. Keeps calling out your name!" That can't be good.

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