When I am reviewing a show, whether it’s my favorite or least favorite, I try to watch with a fair and critical eye. I am taking this same approach with the “Psych” season finale. “Psych” is one of my favorite shows. I find it to be one of the most original, well written shows on television and after sitting back, looking at the finale as not a fan but a television blogger, I came to the same conclusion. Despite the fact that it was already one of my favorites, despite the fact that I’d like to spot a moment that can be improved upon and sandwich it between a series of compliments; I just can’t do it. The “Psych” season finale, without question, was one of the best episodes I have ever seen. I say this as a critic, as a blogger and as a fan.
For years, Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill) have been solving crimes with the Santa Barbara police department, using Shawn’s psychic abilities to help them. Only, Shawn isn’t a psychic. He’s just really gifted at paying attention to details that go unnoticed to the average eye. I know he’s not a psychic, you know he’s not a psychic, Gus and his father know it, most of the police department suspects as much, but on paper, Shawn seems psychic. He solves cases, has “visions and readings” and criminals are put away. One criminal in particular; a psychotic serial killer named Mr. Yin-Yang (played by Ally Sheedy) in the 2009 episode. “An Evening with Mr. Yang.”
But Mr. Yin-Yang and all her psycho mind games have stopped. She’s been in solitary confinement in a mental institution and a book about her murders and capture has been published for everyone to read. Our episode brings back our psycho killer. When suddenly the games and the murders start again and we learn that she is only Yang. She was not working alone, there is a Yin to her Yang. The organized games of our locked up murderer are gone and instead the chaotic world of Yin is created. The new killer recreates Alfred Hitchcock scenes to lure his victims, most of who are affiliated with Shawn in one way or another. In a turn that is reminiscent of the film The Dark Knight, Shawn suddenly finds himself having to choose who he wants to save. With no real psychic ability, our main character, our normal rock, becomes extremely vulnerable.
James Roday is not only the star of this episode but he took his turn behind the camera by writing it and directing it. The episode is shot in a stunning way that recreates many of Hitchcock’s greatest scenes (including location and characters.) The clock tower and staircase from Vertigo, the murder on the staircase from Psycho, the wheelchair in the window from Rear Window are just a few scenes that are recreated in this episode. Finding a way to have the main characters become characters in Hitchcock films and scenes could have taken, for lack of a better word, a very cheesy turn. It could have been a lame Halloween episode or they could have been at a horror film convention. These are all predictable and redundant ways to get the characters into these scenes. Instead it was the work of a psychotic killer putting them there and forcing them to play these roles, and it was brilliant.
At the end of the episode my heart was pounding and I was shaking. This is not a normal reaction of mine from watching an episode of “Psych.” “Psych” is a comedy at heart. One of the things I like best about the show is its ability to make you laugh despite the fact that people are being murdered and kidnapped week after week. While this episode contained a few hilarious moments (Roday’s Jimmy Stewart impression was great) it was a particularly dark episode. However, the show handled the turn of mood with skill, grace and originality. It didn’t sell itself as the token serious episode and it didn’t have an overtly sappy ending or rescue. Was it an episode of “Law and Order?” No. It was still “Psych,” but it was exploring new realms and took new turns. To be blunt: it was television at it’s finest.
Perhaps my attempt at trying to look at this episode with a critical eye, despite my fandom, was a bit biased. But when a show is good, it’s good. It wouldn’t serve anyone reading my blog to take an unnecessary jab at a show that was done right. So, as the wait for season five begins, my judgmental side gets a rest and my fandom begins to grow.