My father has started to discuss his retirement, openly enough that I can share that information with strangers on the internet. His group of anesthesiologists has a mandatory retirement age, but he doesn’t want to hit the age where he’s forced to leave, so he’s planning on leaving early and taking some time to travel more with my mother. After that, though, I think he’ll go into teaching. He talks about that idea fairly frequently, helps conducts boards for residents in their final year, and most of the human biology knowledge my younger brother and I soaked up at the dinner table as children comes from his brief lectures when describing his various cases at work. Active people like my father don’t take well to a sedentary retirement, where the thrill or excitement they get from their work, however mundane or enthralling, occupies them in a way no leisure activity could.
That’s the idea at the center of “Nip And Suck It.” Henry, bored stiff by a bird-watching group interrupted by a phone call form Shawn, discovers a woman’s body through his old investigative instincts, and immediately, his blood is pumping at full strength. He knows that nothing fulfills him like being a detective, so he throws himself into the case. Shawn finds this development cute more than anything and indulges his father for, oh, 10 seconds before getting annoyed by Henry’s tactics (pot-kettle-black, Shawn…) and shutting him out of the SBPD investigation. But that doesn’t stop Henry, who traces the victim to a plastic surgeon with whom he has a history just as Shawn and Gus finish getting some illegally obtained information about the victim’s marital status but nothing more.
Thus begins a father/son battle for the investigation. Shawn wants to prove his dad can’t start in the game anymore, while Henry just wants the thrill of his professional life back. So it’s a battle between the pettiness of shoving the fact of aging in your father’s face, and wanting the dignity of a meaningful life. Yet again, Shawn Spencer is the perfect son and a respectful human being. It’s also a battle between methodologies, or so they think. Hank loves to talk about relying on instincts, while Shawn says he favors “whims and whiffle swings.” But those aren’t too far apart, decisions made in the moment relying on yourself to make the right choice. So the conflict comes from the perception that the old man can’t do his old job, and the young guy doesn't have the experience to finish the case. It’s a tired conflict, but at least there’s the humor of Henry getting clubbed over the head with a mounted fish.
As he often does, Dule Hill gets to play the clown, mugging for the camera like he’s been injected with botox, and constantly worrying about some aspect of his face when around the cosmetic surgeons. It’s nice to see a male character so outlandishly concerned with their appearance when surrounded by plastic surgery, instead of having Shawn chide Juliet or having her feel apprehensive about her appearance. But during the investigation, Gus and Shawn visit a massage parlor to talk to the victim’s wife, and Gus reacts poorly to having a male masseuse. He’s more uncomfortable with having a male masseuse than he is about the extreme pain he feels when Shawn unfairly questions the guy. Gus feels insecure about his own looks, but he’s also insecure about his sexuality to the point where a male masseuse is out of the question.
Eventually as the case wears on, Henry and Shawn pick different suspects, who both seem guilty at certain points, only for it to turn out that they’re both wrong, and half of a con-artist team murdered her partner the masseuse for falling in love with their newest mark. Henry’s faith that Shawn will discover new evidence that proves them both wrong is meant as a slight against Shawn’s predictability, but it also casts them as more similar than they want to admit. Which is why I wouldn’t say no to Henry moving a desk into the Psych office and taking a small case whenever he wants to.
Then somehow, in the final moments of the episode, all the romance comes into focus. Shawn announces to Gus that Juliet took him back—an off-screen conversation that really shouldn’t have taken place off-camera, considering every other step of that process was given dramatic weight at the end of an episode. And then Gus receives cookies from Rachel with a card saying they need to talk, which he immediately interprets as the beginning of a breakup and crumples. And through Gus’ emotional panic, Henry and Joan stand there, waiting to go fishing for their second date. At least one good thing comes from this father/son showdown: they finally stop talking about Shawn walking in on his parents. Henry may be enjoying his free time in retirement, but he’s figuring out how to stay active, whether that’s fishing with a long-lost date or getting into the private detective business to put his talents to good use.
- Next week is the season seven finale, with the two-part musical episode shifted to the fall as a two-hour special. It’s not clear whether that will go with the now expanded eighth season, which will run an additional 13 episodes.
- Henry’s tactic to get Shawn and Gus off his tail when they follow his car: genius.
- My parents: a doctor and a microbiologist. I’m a writer; my brother is a drummer studying jazz. My father likes to joke that one of us will have a child who grows up to be a physicist just to maintain the science-arts cycle.
- Lassiter’s statement that a suspect was “as guilty as Mrs. O’Leary’s cow” is exactly the kind of moronic sentiment that makes me laugh just about every time he opens his mouth.
- Actresses who should play sisters: Eliza Coupe and Maggie Lawson. Boom.