Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Reaper: "Charged"

Illustration for article titled Reaper: "Charged"
Illustration for article titled Reaper: "Charged"

If a pilot is like a first date, the second episode is when the relationship starts to get settled in. It's not as exciting as the initial wooing process, but wooing is ultimately empty and unfulfilling if you can't commit to regularly spending time together. With "Charged" Reaper got down to the nitty gritty of weekly series mechanics. Apparently it's going to work like this: Sam (Bret Harrison) gets his vessel, he finds out about an escaped soul wreaking havoc, Satan drops in to offer advice and devilish comic asides, Sam enlists his pals Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez) to help out, Sam saves the day. That's it, that's the formula. Works for me. "Charged" didn't sweep me off my feet like the first episode, but it was a solid effort that made me feel safe and secure in the strong, warm arms of my new TV love.

The episode began with Sam fruitlessly trying to ditch his latest vessel. Perhaps he's not familiar with Satan's all-knowing, all-consuming power, but soon enough he realizes that simply taking the vessel out to the woods and leaving it there is not going to get him out of the soul-hunting business. I like that Sam's reluctance to do the devil's bidding is dispensed with fairly quickly–a few whiny complaints to Satan aside, Reaper isn't wasting much time getting Sam acclimated to his job. When he opens the vessel box and finds a remote control monster truck inside, he pretty much just goes with it.

Speaking of Satan, I could have used more Ray Wise this episode. I counted four Wise scenes, which isn't enough–however many scenes were in this episode, that's how many scenes he should have been in. Wise tells Sam about his latest escaped soul: Arthur Ferrey, an Enron-esque energy trader who was busted for illegally selling energy to other states. Now he's feeding on power lines to stay alive, and shooting off lightning bolts that are striking and killing soccer moms. Wise, like before, was a delight, though I'm curious to see whether his evilness will continued to be soft-pedaled as oily motivational speaker-style smarm. Wise obviously has it in him to be supremely creepy–one minute of watching Leland Palmer on Twin Peaks required an hour-long shower–and hopefully Reaper will utilize that at some point. Not that the oily smarm should go by the wayside—Wise's shit-eating grin gives me a shit-eating grin.

The B-story involved Sam continuing to lie to his mom about hunting down souls. In my post last week, I wrote that Sam hiding his destiny from his mother would likely give the show some emotional resonance moving forward. Turns out I was completely wrong about that one. Sam ended up telling her about his bounty hunter gig at the end of the episode, and her non-reaction reaction rang false for me. All she cares about is that he told the truth? She really doesn't mind that her son is Satan's indentured servant, even though it's her fault? That can't be all there is, can it? I really hope this isn't the last we've heard of this storyline.

Other than the handling of Sam's secret and not getting enough Wise–the latter is likely going to be a regular problem unless the series name is changed to Devil–I thought "Charged" was a good start to a nice relationship. Now if only Reaper would stop snoring.

Grade: B

Stray observations

— Sock is a love 'em or hate 'em character. I lean toward love, but I also thought Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny was hilarious. If you hate him, I understand.

—Sam's other friend Ben is still a little non-descript. He's likeable enough, but I had to look up his name on IMDB because I couldn't remember it otherwise.

—I like the idea of having a different vessel every week, but I worry this could become a gag that gets old really quick. The remote control monster truck worked well enough, but I hope they don't try to get too wacky.

—I also like that they based the bad guy on the corporate Enron baddies. Murderers and child molesters get enough coverage on supernatural TV shows–how about some affirmative action for white collar scumbags?

—Another thing Satan likes: Ellen