Last week I called the whole "Devil agreeing to show Sam the contract" thing at the end of "All Mine" a "glaringly false note" in an otherwise great episode. Turns out the only thing that was glaringly false was what I wrote. The contract was a major plot point of tonight's episode "What About Blob"--easily the darkest of the series so far–and contrary to the boneheaded final paragraph of last week's blog post the devil's heart-to-heart with Sam may have been the truest, most crucial scene of the series so far. It certainly seems like an important turn in the show's tone, which for four episodes was light and breezy and tonight unsettling and imbued with slowly-creeping menace. I really liked Reaper before tonight, but "What About Blob" was something altogether juicier and deeper.
The devil is growing darker, but Sam's dad was the real revelation of "What About Blob." Until now he's seemed vaguely distant and emotionally unavailable, but only in a relatively harmless, distracted father sense. Or so I thought. I've been totally lulled by Reaper during its charming opening episodes–every character has been treated so favorably that it's easy to assume their intentions are always good, even when logic suggests they aren't. (Cough, Satan showing Sam the contract, cough.) But only a bastard would sell his son's soul to the devil, and tonight Sam's dad showed signs of being that kind of bastard. When Sam gets his contract–after signing papers for three hours, conveniently keeping him from hanging out with Andi once again–his dad offers to look it over and talk to Satan on his behalf. "I've created cartoon characters to sell cigarettes to kids, Sam. To kids," he says, a throwaway joke that nevertheless suggests his own soul might be on the pitch side of black. Later on, he flips out when the devil won't agree to see him, a blatantly manipulative act he uses to get hold of the contract and torch a seemingly incriminating page at the end of the episode. So, Sam's dad seems less concerned with protecting his son than protecting his own hide. Is he the real villain of this show? Hmm
Maybe he's just been corrupted by his exposure to Mephistopheles. The seductive Ray Wise certainly seemed to be working subtly on Sam's dark side this episode. First he shows Sam a picture of Andi's new squeeze with "slutty" twins, apparently to see if he will use the information to his advantage. Then the devil tells Sam that he can't tell Andi about his demon-busting without threatening her life. Readers have complained loudly about Andi being a waste of space as a character, but she's clearly a valuable prop for Satan's control of Sam; Andi is always close but still so far away. It's enough to inspire lust, envy, and wrath in a person–three of the seven deadly sins. What will Sam give up to have her?
So, those formerly dormant novelistic storytelling gears have clearly kicked in on Reaper. I missed some of the warmth of last week's episode–Sock was relatively subdued, and my boy Ben was pretty much nonexistent, so the gang's interaction was limited–but "What About Blob" was a necessary change of pace for a show that has officially become appointment TV.
--Why was the devil so adamant about not seeing Sam's dad?
--Sock's ex-girlfriend in the D.A.'s office–IMDB tells me her name is Josie, not that I cared–still seems more like a walking plot device than a real character. But I loved the scene where Sam overhears her talking to Andi about their double-date. It was my favorite margin doodle–maybe the only one this episode–of the night.
--Andi would totally date a guy like Greg. While I don't mind her, Andi is pretty much a total zero, isn't she?
--Andi's mom, on the other hand, is a total MILF. But wasn't she acting kind of weird when Sam was at the door? For a second I thought the scene was going to turn into a Fountains Of Wayne video. (By "thought" I mean "wanted.")